I’m a Lecturer at a Karnataka PUC & Was Asked To Remove My Hijab for Exam Duties
A hijab-wearing woman finds her freedom in her hijab. Everyone has a choice of whatever they want to wear.
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Ever since the hijab controversy erupted in Karnataka, we have been under constant stress. The Karnataka High Court's verdict, which bans pre-university students from wearing hijab at schools and colleges where uniforms are prescribed, is being misused at all levels.
Karnataka Education Minister BC Nagesh said that teachers on the exam duty would not be allowed to wear hijab inside the exam hall, saying it is morally incorrect for the teachers to wear hijab.
Though he said that teachers can opt out of exam duties if they want to wear the hijab, his orders are affecting us badly.
I am a lecturer at a government Pre-University College (PUC) and have been assigned examination duties. Despite my written denial, I am forced to go for exam duties and have to remove my hijab.
Many of my colleagues have either resigned or have been terminated for refusing exam duties without hijab.
'Karnataka High Court Order Being Misused'
One of my colleagues opted out of exam duties and was given the relaxation. A few days later when she went to sign her attendance register, she was informed that she had been terminated on the grounds of not performing her job well.
I and my colleagues are not denying to do the work. This is our profession and we have to do everything – be it teaching, exam duties, or evaluations. All of these are our duties, and we want to do them. We have done so much work in the past and we want to continue doing that but because of the hijab row, we have been pushed back.
We had this intuition that the way the high court gave its judgment that hijab is not an essential religious practice, the government and other private bodies were going to misuse it.
It is very important to understand that religion is a personal practice and what is essential and what is not should be left to the individual.
And more than religious practice, in our democratic and secular country we have a right to choose what we want to wear. But it seems that this right is under severe threat.
Several teachers in the state are under tremendous pressure. One of my colleagues, a teacher at a private college, had to remove her hijab to perform exam duties because she didn't have the luxury to leave the job.
'HIJAB SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A MATTER OF CHOICE'
This is our comfort zone and we feel comfortable in this. Nobody forced me to wear a hijab. I am taking a dupatta (scarf) since my childhood and my parents never asked me to wear a burqa. I was only 14 years old when I started wearing the hijab and I never take it off anywhere. Even at home, I take a dupatta on my head.
Some women wear it, some don't. It is their choice. A hijab-wearing woman finds her freedom in her hijab. Everyone has a choice of whatever they want to wear. Women should not be suppressed like this whether they are Hindu, Muslim, or from any other community.
'SUPREME COURT OUR LAST HOPE'
I am yet to understand on what grounds the government and other private institutions are banning women from wearing hijab when the high court order was limited to pre-university students.
I feel helpless. What can we do now? We are disappointed by the high court's verdict. Now our last hope is the Supreme Court where the matter of the hijab ban is pending. I hope that the Supreme Court will give a verdict in our favour. If that doesn't happen, what can I do? I'll have to leave my job.
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