Tuesday, 17 July 2007

UK School wins right to ban Christian ‘purity’ ring

The Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex in the UK banned a pupil from wearing a ‘purity’ ring as it contravened the schools uniform policy.

She was one of a dozen girls who wore the ring, engraved with a verse from the Bible, as a sign of their intention to abstain from sex until they married.

She took the school to court on the grounds that it was as "unlawful interference" with her fundamental rights to express her Christian faith, but the court rejected this.

A school that banned a teenage girl from wearing a "purity" ring to symbolise her opposition to sex before marriage did not discriminate against her religious beliefs, the High Court ruled today.

The judge ruled, that the ring could not be regarded as ‘a proper Christian symbol’, and so the school had not breached the Human Rights Act. The decision does seem a little perverse and one wonders at how qualified he was to make the decision and what advice he may have taken.

This is the same school that had no problem allowing Moslem girls to wear headscarves. These scarves are clearly no more a (in the words of the court) ‘proper’ Moslem symbol, originating as they do with certain Middle Eastern ethnicities and not necessary to all Moslem women.

The Koran talks about modesty, but there is no specifically prescribed dress code for Muslim men and women.

The details regarding women's dress differ in various Muslim countries according to local cultural traditions. It ranges from any form of modest but not specifically Moslem dress to the extreme, all-covering chador, or burqa.

In fact the scarves when they are worn are worn to symbolise their ‘modesty and purity’ fulfilling much the same roll as the ring albeit far more overtly - and with just as much, or as little, ‘proper ness’ as the ring. Modesty might be regarded as a requirement but not the wearing of the scarf

Some in the Moslem world regard the headscarf and other more extreme versions of dress for Moslem women as an agenda being pushed by the more the ‘fundamentalist’ to assert a strict Middle Eastern homogenising control over Muslims in Europe.

Surely to be fare it should be one rule for all - and it does not look all that much like one rule for all at the moment.

Will the school, having won it’s argument on this basis, now be banning headscarves on the same basis? Or will they reconsider allowing the rings?

How likely is that?

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