This week, I posted a trending video on my social media handles about a Muslim sister being told off and treated shabbily by an official of her place of primary assignment because she wore a skirt.
There’s this lingering issue about women doing their NYSC service who have chosen not to wear a skirt. Among them are Muslim sisters and sisters of the Deeper Life Church. Some ladies feel so strongly that they avoid going for service so that they wouldn’t be subjected to the trousers.
I decided to go to the NYSC website to see its position about dress code and was lucky to find “NYSC BYE-LAWS (Revised 2011)”
Section 8 says “Wear the various uniforms provided for the activities [in camp].”
And here is the consequence of disobeying that rule:
“Any member who refuses, fails or neglects to comply with this rule shall be tried by the Camp Court and, if found guilty, be liable to be decamped and sent out of the orientation camp.”
This isn’t very useful to our discussion because the dress code didn’t tell us much; especially, it left out what members should wear at their places of primary assignment.
I’ve seen those in service in all kinds of “uniforms.“ Sometimes, the only item of uniform on them is the face cap.
So I posted the following statement together with the video on social media:
“Muslims still suffer persecution in Nigeria.
The level of hatred and islamophobia is just too much. NYSC should publish a guideline on what our sisters are allowed to wear.”
By the time I came back from my journey to a grazing reserve in Mariga, Niger State, over 7,000 people had watched the video, and it was shared over 700 times.
Many also commented; fortunately, among the commenters was someone who cited a case of how the issue was solved by the NYSC in the past. Since many people didn’t know this, the present party included, I’m going to start with his comment. Following his helpful insight are other comments – even though some of them only added to the noise.
Muhammad Awwal Hussain: Even if the corper is not in her NYSC uniform at all, the officer shouldn’t have shouted at her in such a way. I served in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state in 2006, batch A, and there were some sisters who refused to wear the complete kit. Some of them were Muslims while the other ones were Deeper Life church members.
The ruling from the NYSC DG was a corp member is not mandated to be fully dressed in the NYSC uniform but must wear something that will identify him/her as a NYSC member. The ruling was gazetted and sent to the various state NYSC coordinators.
Faithful Chiagoziem Onwuegbuche: This same thing happens to Christain female corps members that refuse to wear trousers. I agree that female serving corps members should be allowed to wear skirts.
If the Nigerian Police and Immigration have options for skirts, I see no reason why NYSC shouldn’t have an option for skirts for serving female corps members.
Aisha Musa: When I was a corper in Bauchi State, my colleague from Deeper Life wore skirt.
Rukky M. Dindey: That’s why I have never had that intention of going for youth service. Nobody and nothing will change my modesty, especially when it to comes to how I dress and what I wear.. This needs to be seriously addressed.
Fatima Sa’eed Muhammad: Rukky M Dindey, I though I’m the only person on earth that refused to go to NYSC after graduation.
Abdulnaseer Abdullahi: This has nothing to do with islamphobia, what is wrong in wearing a trouser? She just want to be recognized and she got the attention needed.. So many Muslim sisters wear trousers and hijab and look decent and good. Lets us not drag religion here, please.
Hawwah Jiddare: I don’t think this has anything to do with islamphobia, Doc. They do not look an inch like corp members. This is an abberration of what the NYSC stands and works for. During my days, as a young married woman, all of us married women wear our uniforms smartly and cover our hairs with the small scarf and use the cap on it. It was smart, decent and represent the NYSC. I would do the same if I were the supervisor, maybe in a different way. But, this has nothing to do with islamphobia or descrimination. My take.
Sani Bako Mohammed: Hawwah Jiddare. Islamophobia is any kind of prejudice against Muslims or Islam and whether you view the action of the NYSC supervisor in question as Islamophobic or not really depends on ones orientation and bias. That to me is the justification for some form of dress code for female Corp members (and a review if it does exist but is unacceptable to some critical stakeholders).
To my mind, the major problem we’ve got is the flawed notion that nationalism and religious rights are mutually exclusive. I reckon a Corp member can don the NYSC kit while substantially upholding their religious values. The Western world is fast coming to this realisation as evidenced in the flexibility they permit for some female uniformed citizens e.g. Police in the UK. My daughter attends a Catholic primary school in the UK and she’s allowed to wear white or black Hijab as part of her school uniform.
But regardless, (and you’ve made the point), we should always be sensitive to the values and norms of our fellow countrymen and women when we deal with them. Even if what the young corp member wore was inappropriate, there are many ways of correcting her without causing a scene! May Allah inspire us to love one another in Nigeria. Amen
Emmanuel Eluu: Later they will be talking of female marginalization. I wonder how you will climb rope and other rigorous camp activities. I wonder if there is no Muslim female soldiers or do they still have this obsession while going to war. Religion has made us slave again after colonization.
Abdallah Yunus Abdallah: Let’s face the reality, the girl is stupid. What’s wrong with wearing a trouser? Why should she wear skirt? NYSC has dress code and their is nothing wrong with it. Ladies are allowed to wear their trousers and their hijabs.
Abu Bkr Bello: The issue of Hijab and change of name for married women should be addressed cos this is Nigeria, a nation where 65% of the citizens are muslims.
Aliyu Abdullahi: The saddest part is Muslims on this thread trying to outsmart one another in playing to the gallery in the name of objectivity, Islam will win with or without you, NYSC or school rules cannot supplant Islamic injunctions on dress code. If during your service year your iman is too weak to allow you live by the tenets of the religion you profess the least you can do in this scenario is to enjoined NYSC to come up with a wholistic dress code that will be acceptable to all, by the way, the woman that was chastising the lady in hijab, is her dressing also proper?