Muslim women need not remove their burqas during security checks at civic hospitals, a circular issued by the municipal body said.
The circular issued to the hospitals asks the police and security staff to deploy only policewomen if there is a need to remove the burqa.
Additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh said, “We have told the hospital security staff to not ask women to remove the burqa because it could be humiliating.”
“Actually, the problem was that not all staff members are well-versed in Urdu, and thus they would use the word
‘burqa’ instead of ‘pardah’ [veil covering the face]. In the circular, we have asked that the women be frisked only by policewomen, and the security guard must know that only the ‘pardah’ can be removed,” he said.
On Friday, Congress MLA Amin Patel, accompanied by several corporators and around 30 Muslim women, had met BMC officials to address the issue. “Such cases keep coming to us time and again. The latest one was at a civic hospital in Mulund, where a woman was similarly harassed. She was so humiliated that she chose not to enter the hospital at all,” he said.
Waqrunnisa Ansari, a woman corporator from Mohammed Ali Road, who was part of the delegation, called the circular a victory and a relief for women. “Asking for the removal of burqa is akin to asking somebody to remove her clothes. In our faith, we don’t remove the burqa in public. For security purposes, we can only unveil the face. This was a long-pending demand by us,” she said.