India’s hijab controversy is forcing Muslim girls to choose between their education and their faith

Over the past month, the Indian state of Karnataka has been in the news as protests related to a ban on Muslim students wearing the hijab (headscarf) in the classroom escalated and spread across the state. 

The tensions led to violent clashes between those supporting the ban and those against it, drastically affecting the education of students who have already been hit by the pandemic. 

Background

The controversy began on 28 December 2021 when authorities of an educational institution in Udipi, Karnataka banned six Muslim girls from entering with their hijabs (headscarves) on. One of the students filed a petition in the Karnataka High court demanding the right to wear the hijab under Article 14 of the Indian constitution, which recognises equality and equal protection under the law, and Article 25, which stipulates that all citizens have the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. 

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India’s reservation policy is meant to help Dalits, as long as they don’t convert to Christianity or Islam

In June, we published a blog post detailing the history of Dalit conversion in India and how this can often be an act of self-liberation for members of this historically underprivileged community. This continues to this day, however there are those in the community, particularly those who convert to Christianity or Islam, who can continue to face discrimination and hardship even after conversion.

For this blog, we spoke to a Christian who works on Dalit and other human rights issues in the country, who shared some of her own experiences and shed light on the issues that persist for Dalits in India today.

“Growing up as a Christian in India, there were some decisions that you had to make early on in life. One such decision was what I would put my caste down as in my school’s admission form. I was taught that we are all God’s children and we are all equal, but why was I being asked to classify myself? I was a Christian, so I ticked the box that said OC (Other Caste) because we were taught that Christians don’t have castes and that was the only sensible option available. Also, because I was privileged to not know what caste I belong to. 

Continue reading “India’s reservation policy is meant to help Dalits, as long as they don’t convert to Christianity or Islam”