Two roads diverged at thirty-five, and I - I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
Wednesday, June 26
GUARDING A GIRL'S MODESTY IN SPORTS - SHOULD WE?
SCHOOL SPORTS DAY has always made me uneasy - especially now when I know about the need for aurat coverage and modesty.
Parents, how would you feel if your teenage daughter who gets cramps
due to running is carried by boys, when there are other female
first-aiders around who can do that? Girls, would you like to be
stared at by the male first-aiders when you are attended to by the
female aiders, with your hijab taken off ? Muslim Teachers, would
you stand and pretend that guarding a girl's modesty can be pushed aside
because getting first-aid is more important? Why can't there be
some sort of gender segregation at the emergency tent during a school
Sports Day, if there are enough first aiders and facilities?
PLEASE laaaa, this is not about gender discrimination or racial
discrimination just because I told some male first aiders to
move away from the tent. This is putting into practice what our religion, ISLAM tells us to do.
The Malay girl collapsed at the finishing line after the long run. I looked around. Only some students on duty were there to run to her and give first aid. The runner was crying in pain. I guessed that she had cramps, so I reluctantly went to check on her. I repeat, I did so reluctantly because it was not my duty to give first aid to students. There were supposed to be other teachers in charge of providing that, but only God knows why they were not around. I did not want to poke my nose into somebody else's job but that poor girl was in distressed and I am a trained first aider.
I called for the stretcher to be brought over.
I heard my immediate boss telling the group of first-aiders that the girls should carry her into the stretcher., so I gave some instructions to the female aiders to do so. The boys hovered around, ready to carry it to the emergency tent nearby. They did carry her over there, so I followed to check on her, as there was no adult first-aid teacher supervising her.
I found her still crying in the stretcher in the tent, with the first aid box placed under her elevated feet. "Why are you crying? Are your legs still painful?" I asked in Malay. Anis [not her real name] nodded and continued to cry. With some help from the Chinese girls who were first-aiders on duty, she was soon lying in the recovery position on the mat. I told the girls to massage her legs and keep her calm before I left for my actual duty on the track. They had taken off her white cotton hijab, exposing her hair. I held my tongue.
Minutes later, when I returned to the tent, Anis was putting on her hijab. "Well, here's a girl who actually wants to cover her aurat." I thought to myself. Suddenly she began to vomit. "Did you take your breakfast?" I asked her. "No," she replied as she vomited again and again. I sighed. Somehow, despite all our advice, some students would still skip breakfast. That's not a wise thing to do, especially when one was due to run on the tracks. I called Jason, a hardworking male first-aider on duty. "Get her a little warm Milo-o, please," I requested. Minutes later, he returned with the beverage. I asked a female first aider to give Anis the drink as she was still weak and leaning on another girl before I left to resume my duties. Thankfully, the male athletes were strong and only suffered from cramps, which they seeked treatment under one of the teachers' tents.
After a few minutes, I saw a number of boys at the tent with Anis and the female first aiders. I called Jason again to ask them to leave the tent as they were not giving first aid to anyone there. They could stand elsewhere in the field. And I didn't like the idea of them staring at Anis who was still unwell at the tent. "Can you stand somewhere else? Please don't stand at the tent," I said when they told me that they were on duty. Apparently I had not seen them helping except to move the tent.
I left the field at 10.30am. It was then that I met the teacher in charge of first aid, a nonmuslim lady who was attending to other matters elsewhere.
Minutes later, while having my break at the canteen, that teacher came over to me and asked if there was a 'casualty' in the field. "Yes, there was a girl.." I started to explain when she cut in. "Please don't tell my boys to leave the tent. They're on duty and two of them are trained officers. They complained to me that you asked them to leave their posts," she said. "The girl was shy and they were not helping her, so I just asked them to stand elsewhere," I replied. "Don't make any sweeping statement. In First aid, no racial discrimination or gender discrimination," she continued. I decided not to pursue the matter at the canteen where many teachers and students were eating. "Ok fine, I'm sorry," I said nonchalantly as the teacher in front of me rolled her eyes. We all knew that she herself had left her charges, the students, to provide first aid while she skipped her duty in the field.
All the students on duty, the male and female first-aiders were Chinese. Some are my own students. I found out that only a small number of them had certificates in giving first aid; others were school-trained. Teachers are needed to supervise them in the field, no matter how well trained they are.
I would have left this issue to die down but something kept bugging me till this post is written. Should a female, especially Muslimah athlete be left to be attended to by the male first aiders, with her hair exposed, when there are many female first-aiders around to help her? It's not darurat yet. Should a conscious female Muslim athlete share an emergency tent with other male athletes and allow herself to be seen lying down while receiving first aid? It's not darurat yet. Sorry to say, this has been happening in co-ed secondary schools especially those underfunded and the teachers in charge are nonmuslims, who don't seem to understand the discomfort of some female Muslim students when they are being touched, carried or stared at by the male nonmuslim students. No gender discrimination ? Sure, I know that first aid should be given as an emergency treatment to a sick person. But if there are both female and male attendants available, why can't a Muslim girl be given a choice of being treated by a female?
I personally believe that we, the Muslim public, should make the effort of ensuring that our daughters, sisters and nieces are given the choice and due respect to follow our religion, Islam's code of conduct.
And no, just because I'm bringing up this issue and suggesting gender segregation while providing first aid at school sports meet, I'd be a PAS member, as an FB friend accused me of being. [hello, does everyone who is snsitive to covering the aurat and suggesting protecting a Muslimah's modesty should be a PAS member? Skip the labelling laaa!] I'm just a normal Muslimah who believes in helping other Muslimahs protect their modesty and aurat. I've said my piece.