In a landmark judgement on Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the Muslim girls will have to attend mixed swimming lessons in a school in Basel, Switzerland.
The case was filed by two Swiss nationals of Turkish origin, who refused to send their teenage daughters to the compulsory mixed lessons in the city of Basel.
The EHRC agreed that religious freedom was being interfered with but at the same time, defended the actions of the school authorities saying that they are enforcing "the full school curriculum" and enabling the children's "successful integration" into society.
In 2010, after a long-running dispute, the parents were ordered to pay a combined fine of 1,400 Swiss Francs ($1,380) "for acting in breach of their parental duty."
The parents argued that such treatment was a violation of article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the ‘right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. The judges, however, believed that there was no violation.
The court said that 'very flexible arrangements' have been offered to the girls, like allowing them to use a girls-only changing room and letting them wear burkinis during swimming lessons instead of traditional swimwear.
Accordingly, the children’s interest in a full education, thus facilitating their successful social integration according to local customs and mores, prevailed over the parents’ wish to have their children exempted from mixed swimming lessons.European Court of Human Rights