Don't agree with the title? Well you are not alone, as neither do I.
But student equality rights group, Student Rights, believes segregation of men and women is a cause for deep concern in University events. But not in toilets, or in society. In particular in Muslim university events on which they conducted research finding that a quarter of events by 'extremist speakers' in Universities were gender segregated.
Gender segregation is deemed through this study as discriminatory and as Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights put it, a means to "denigrate women". But if this is the case, should everyone really not be out on the streets tomorrow in a campaign to abolish gender segregated toilets in every public building across the country? How about gender segregated hospital wards? Prisons, refuges and single sex schools? The women's sections in national newspapers? Surely all these institutions are leading to unacceptable levels of denigration of women. Perhaps Student Rights want to widen their campaign!
It's quite obvious that gender segregation isn't in fact viewed as discriminatory at all when it is a decision made upon a secular basis. However when upheld by Muslims, gender segregation becomes something abhorrent and a sign of radicalisation and violence. This if anything, marks a society which talks the talk of tolerance, but in reality is one which espouses absolute intolerance. That if you hold a different world other than secular liberalism such as Islam, you are pressured and forced to reject it.
Secondly the idea of rounding up all of the events of 'extremist speakers' and then working out how many were gender segregated implies that gender segregation is a thing for the fringe elements of Muslims.
But just taking a look into the lives of Muslims up and down the country, across the board, will highlight how gender segregation is normal from weddings to parties, to just gatherings in people's homes.
It is an inherent aspect of the lifestyle of Muslim communities, a core Islamic value; not the red alert signal for a radicalised-violent-Muslim-meter. So the effort of this group to deem it as such, must really be counteracted.
And thirdly if we even examine gender segregation in these events the claim that they discriminate women has no basis. Men and women sitting in separate areas of the room, has no impact on the ability of men or women to listen to a speech, engage in discussion or stand up and make as many comments as one wants. In fact the environment gives no added focus on either sex to the advantage of the other, as where you physically sit has no bearing on how you exert your mind. Interestingly in education, the argument for single sex schools is that girls in particular do better in school by being separated from boys.
Muslim women on campus know exactly what their beliefs and practices are and fully willingly adhere to them. They don't need fear-mongers to act as their defenders and at the same time, play on the stereotype that they are voiceless and oppressed by some elusive patriarchy that is painted as existing.
So let's be real about what this is all really about - It's of course not about gender separate public toilets, but about the practices of Muslims that are different from the secular liberal norms.
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