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Muslim women may wear religious garb in schools - CHR

Muslim women on EDSA to witness GPH-MILF signing of framework agreement. PNA FILE PHOTO
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Muslim women may wear headscarves in schools, universities, and other learning institutions, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.

In its Advisory No. 2013-002 issued on 8 August 2013, the CHR recognized the human rights of Muslim women to wear “hijab,” “burka,” and “niqabs” as part of their freedom of expression and freedom of religion. 

The advisory stemmed from complaints received by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) that several colleges and universities have prevented their students from wearing headscarves inside their premises. 

Aside from this, a frontline government agency has also been the subject of complaints for allegedly forcing Muslim women to expose their ears during a photograph-taking session despite a previous memorandum allowing them as well as nuns to keep their headscarves during the photo shoot. 

These complaints have pushed CHR to convene a discussion/consultation of national and international laws in the protection of women’s rights. 

According to the CHR, other government agencies must also fulfill their mandate in relation to women’s rights:

* Presidential Human Rights Committee to craft a proposed appropriate issuance that would underscore the policy of the government to respect the wearing of headscarves or hijabs by Muslim women; 

* Civil Service Commission to craft appropriate issuance for compliance by all government agencies, to allow Muslim women to wear hijabs at work and to ensure that where there are security and identification concerns, that such processes are gender sensitive; 

* Commission on Higher Education to reiterate or reissue with directive for strict compliance by all institutions of higher learning, technical or vocational schools and similar training centers, to allow the wearing of hijabs; and

* Department of Labor and Employment to formulate policy guideline for implementation and compliance by private companies, on the mode of dressing and wearing of hijabs by female employees who are Muslim.