Books that sanction domestic violence and say women should never refuse their husbands sex are among a series of sexist materials that inspectors have found in Britain’s Islamic schools. The education watchdog has compiled a file of the worst examples.
The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) discovered a book in a school library entitled ‘Women Who Deserve to Go to Hell’, which said it was wrong for wives to show “ingratitude to their husband” or “have tall ambitions,” according to the Times. It also detailed “mischievous” females who are a “trial for men.” In its pages, pupils are told: “In the beginning of the 20th century, a movement for the freedom of women was launched with the basic objective of driving women towards aberrant ways.”
Another school Ofsted visited encouraged children to read a text that contrasted the “noble women of the East” who protects her modesty by wearing a veil, while the “internally torn woman of the West” attracts men and leaves her home to hang around in cinemas and cafés.
Other materials claimed that in a Muslim marriage “the wife is not allowed to refuse sex to her husband” or “leave the house where she lives without his permission.” Boys and girls were also taught that “the man by way of correction can also beat her.” Work marked by teachers stated that women had a responsibility “only to bear children and bring them up as Muslims.”
The social attitudes contained in the library books appear to have filtered through to children’s work. Ofsted inspectors found a student answered on a worksheet suggesting women have a responsibility “only to bear children and bring them up as Muslims” while men should be “protectors of women.” In a box headed “daily life and relationships” the pupil had written that men are “physically stronger” and women are “emotionally weaker.” The worksheet was covered in approving red ticks from the teacher.
Ofsted said the books and writings made for “uncomfortable reading.” It added that the material it collected was out of step with mainstream Muslim thinking, and came from maintained schools as well as independent faith schools and unregistered schools.
The education watchdog took issue in particular with primary schools which allow girls as young as four to wear the hijab. It said there is a “growing concern” about the trend. Inspectors are now planning to question Muslim girls who wear the hijab at primary school, because most Islamic teaching does not require girls to cover their heads until they reach puberty.
An investigation is also being launched into a reported rise in the number of girls forbidden from taking swimming lessons in order to preserve their modesty.