HOME : We will explore if misogyny is religiously sanctioned or men took it upon themselves to make it work for them, and in the process made a villain out of God and religion. One sentence that I have been repeating lately is "for every Muslim ass, there is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or other ass" add hole if you need to.You cannot single out or blame any one religion or tradition, the representatives of religions make us decide about religion. We need to rise about stereotyping. We should not relish in putting down others. Finding the truth is our own responsiblity. Mike Ghouse

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gender apartheid is real in UK universities. So why aren't more people fighting it?

Its just not UK, this is all over the world. The Jewish women are fighting for this in Israel for a long time, its happening elsewhere.  I have noted in my comments earlier in a similar posting , that separation is not much of a problem in societies with similar culture like India, Pakistan, Arab Nations and elsewhere, where Hindus, Muslim, Christians, Sikhs follow the separation in places of worship and schools, and it is a norm. The problem occurs when it become a legal separation in mixed cultures and one is forced to sit separately - not a cultural norm of the society in UK, US or other western nations. It should be a choice, wherever the girls want to sit.
Mike Ghouse

As 8,000 people sign a petition against gender segregation in British universities, a rally last night attracted only 100 protesters. Who is fighting the good fight, asks Emma Pearce

Campaigners protest against gender segregation in British universities
Campaigners protest against gender segregation in British universities 

University degrees were first offered to women in the UK in 1878, but last night, stood in front of the London headquarters of Universities UK, which claims to be ‘the voice for UK universities’, it appeared that the fight for equality is far from over.
Standing in Tavistock Square on a freezing December night, over 100 campaigners and students gathered to protest against the "shame of gender apartheid" at universities.
Last month, new guidelines from Universities UK suggested institutions could allow gender segregation during lectures given by external speakers, based on the teachings of their religion, as "there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating".

The rally last night was purposefully held on International Human Rights Day and on the day of Nelson Mandela's memorial, to expose the fact that gender segregation is widespread.
The protest came after some 8,000 people signed a petition to rescind endorsement of sex segregation at UK Universities.
The rally against gender segregation

Maryam Namazie, a researcher at the University of London and one of the organisers of the event, said that she has noticed a rise of Islamism across UK Universities that is not truly representing the views of most Muslims. She said: “In the UUK’s efforts to be inclusive they are encouraging sexism and endorsing discrimination.

“It's about free speech and its about Islamists imposing their rules and projecting women as symbols of chaos in society."

A whole host of speakers were at the protest that climaxed in the chanting of ‘shame on UUK’ directed at the organisation’s headquarters.

A report in the spring revealed gender segregation, at events run solely by student Islamic

societies or in the interests of Muslims, is widespread.

Student Rights, which carried out the research, found that radical preachers spoke at 180 events at universities including Cardiff and University College London (UCL) between March 2012 and March 2013. Segregated seating for men and women was promoted or implied at more than a quarter of the events, at 21 separate institutions.

“Words cannot fully describe what I feel today,” said Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters, a feminist group. “Rage, indignation and sorrow are just some that spring to mind.” And she went on to say “that the assertion of religious political power obliterates the very ideas of liberty and equality that so many people lived for and died for”.

‘Separate but equal’ is not equal at all was the message being spread by protesters. And of course it isn’t. By pursuing the appeasement of these religious fundamentalists anyone is right to question where this might end?

You would also be right to question why splitting people on race or sexuality would cause public outrage but splitting people on gender has received relatively little attention?

Last night's protest echoed much of what Nelson Mandela fought for. Ms Patel likened the two examples by saying that UUK’s justification for its actions was that it was “trying to uphold equalities law [but] this was the same defence they used for racial apartheid in South Africa”.

The protesters seemed very inspired by the legacy of Mandela and felt that much that he supported could be used in their fight for co-education.

Most of us might think that we have come a huge way in equality in education but what the report of the UUK has exposed is that we still have a long way to go.
Does the UK have a problem with co-education between men and women?

Helen Palmer, chair of the Secular Europe Campaign, said last night that Cambridge University offered its first degree to women in 1948 and Oxford is celebrating its 40th anniversary of co-education this year. But she said that St Bennets, a boys only college at Oxford, is only now, in 2013, considering allowing female students.

Two young women at the rally, from Oxbridge, were concerned about the progress of girls in higher education.

 Geetanjali Normande, 20, and Radha Bhatt, 19, at the protest

Radha Bhatt, 19, a student at Cambridge University, said: "I am absolutely shocked and concerned that this segregation is still going on … the idea that Muslim leaders are uncomfortable with men and women sitting together and that UUK is appeasing them shows that they have a problem with co-education.”

Geetanjali Normande, 20, from Oxford University, said: "It scares me that institutions like UUK which exist to represent universities and the student body find that it is acceptable to condone this. It sounds like they are so far removed from what it is to be a student and to be told that you can’t sit where you want to in your lecture.

“I grew up in a very religious background but my family are extremely supportive of me getting an education.”

So it begs the question do we still need to be fighting for co-education? Should we be encouraging people to move away from gender-apartheid and see people instead as individuals who must be treated equally? The protesters clearly think there is a long way to go and a big battle still to fight.

UUK last night defended its
report. A statement said: “The guidance does not promote gender segregation. It includes a hypothetical case study involving an external speaker talking about his orthodox religious faith who had requested segregated seating areas for men and women.
"The case study considered the facts, the relevant law and the questions that the university should ask, and concluded that if neither women nor men were disadvantaged.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the National Union of Students, which represents students, said it support the rights of groups to self organise how they wish but it would be "concerned about enforced segregation and certainly does not endorse it."

An NUS statement said: "We believe the Universities UK guidance is saying that the university needs to take law into account when making decisions about what can and can’t happen on a campus.

“A university has a legal duty to protect freedom of speech, but also whilst protecting student safety and balancing a competing range of conflicting duties, such as equality, or the right to protest."

Emma Pearce is a second year politics student at the University of Nottingham. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaPearcee

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