Ban on hijabs in Russian schools: traditional values and the realization of the right to education

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Государство и право. Юридические науки


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Section 6. International law
Section 6. International law
Semenova Nataliya Sergeevna, Peoples'- Friendship University of Russia, PhD in Law, Associate Professor of the Department of International Law
E-mail: semenovanataliya@mail. ru
Ban on hijabs in Russian schools: traditional values and the realization of the right to education
Prepared with the support of the Russian Foundation for Humanities (Project N14−33−1 040)
Abstract: In October 2012, in the Stavropol region of the Russian Federation was a scandal associated with the wearing of Muslim religious headscarves (hijab) in several rural school pupils. The school director forbade girls to wear the hijab while studying. Due to the fact that the girls wearing the hijab is not admitted to the classes, the main question was whether the ban on wearing headscarves in schools violates the right to education, and whether it was possible to consider the ban as gender discrimination in the implementation of the right to education.
Keywords: human rights, right to education, right to conscience, traditional values, hijab, religion.
Two years ago Russia has faced a problem that Western Europe has solved 10 years ago. It concerns banning Muslim girls wearing Muslim religious headscarves (hij ab) in schools. In October 2012, in the Stavropol region of the Russian Federation was a big conflict related to the wearing of the Muslim headscarf (hijab) by several rural school pupils (girls). The school director forbade girls to wear the hijab in the classroom. As a result, girls wearing the hijab were not allowed to attend classes.
Due to the fact that girls in hijabs are not admitted to the classes, the main question is to whether the ban on heads-carves in schools violated the right to education, and whether it was possible to consider the ban as gender discrimination in the implementation of the right to education.
First of all, it is necessary to determine the legal basis of non-discrimination based on gender in the field of education at the international level and in the Russian Federation.
At the international level, there are a number of documents, recognizing the right to education [9, 31−40] and the prohibition of discrimination in education.
Thus, the prohibition of discrimination in education is set in the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education 1960 [1], which enshrines the general provisions on the measures that States Parties undertake to adopt in order to combat discrimination in education. In accordance with Article 1 of the Convention the term «discrimination& quot- includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference which, being based on sex, has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality of treatment in education and in particular of depriving any person or group of persons of access to education of any type or at any level (1 a).
Furthermore, under Article 10 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women 1979 [2], all States Parties «shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure& quot-
As Party of this Convention the Russian Federation has to fulfill this obligation.
At the national level, according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation 1993 (art. 43):
«1. Everyone shall have the right to education.
2. Guarantees shall be provided for general access to and free pre-school, secondary and high vocational education in state or municipal educational establishments and at enterprises» [3].
Therefore, in Russia for everyone without discrimination must be guaranteed and secured the right to education, including free access at all levels except for higher education.
A free higher education in state educational organisations must be guaranteed for everyone without discrimination on a competitive basis (art. 43 (3) of the Constitution).
This is also confirmed by the provision of Article 2 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which states that «the recognition, observance and protection of the rights and freedoms of man and citizen shall be the obligation of the State».
The basic general education is compulsory. Parents shall enable their children to receive a basic general education (art. 43 (4) of the Constitution). This provision means that parents have a duty to provide education for all children (boys and girls).
The relevant provisions are also contained in the Federal Law «On Education in the Russian Federation» [4]. Article 3 establishes the right to education for everyone and the principle of non-discrimination in education (1 (2)). Thus,
Ban on hijabs in Russian schools: traditional values and the realization of the right to education
we can say that at the legal level set all the guarantees for the elimination of discrimination in education based on gender.
Analyzing the conflict in Stavrapolsky region, it should be noted that the Russian Federation is a multinational and policonfessional country. But the main religion is Orthodox christianity. It is important for taking into account a society’s reaction to comply with certain traditions associated with traditional values, which are based on religious values. Note that covered head ofwoman is one of the mandatory provisions of religious practice not only for Muslims but also for Christians.
As the school director Marina Savchenko said, girls are not allowed to lessons in Muslim headscarves, because it conflicts with the charter of the school, which requires wearing of the same form of clothes for all pupils. «We did not insist on the fact that they do not put on hijab at all, but offered to replace it with a headscarf during the time that the girls were in the classroom» [10].
It is in such headscarves girls were coming to school from the beginning of the year (since 1st september), so it did not cause any objections from the school administration. In October, parents of Muslim girls have decided that the girls should go to school in religious headscarves (hijab). In this regard, the school administration banned the wearing of religious headscarves in school.
It should be noted that in the Islamic tradition clearly states that the woman’s head should be covered, but it is not specify what kind of headscarf should be. Interpreters of texts say only that it should cover hair and neck. Thus, the headscarf — hijab, who steadfastly associated with Islam, is a traditional headscarf in certain states professing Islam, excluding Russia.
The conflict could have been resolved quickly as it was the case before, but the girls' parents did not agree. Moreover, a following proposal came not only from the school administration, but also from the Stavropol Mufti Muhammad Haji Rakhimov, who encouraged participants to find a compromise. He said: «We are always must protect our believers. But we understand that we are in a secular society, where schools have their charters». Conflict can be resolved as follows: Muslim girls must come to school in accordance with the rules of the school, and in order not to violate the Islamic traditions, it suffices to wear an ordinary headscarf [8].
Thus, we can hardly say that the school director has forced girls and their parents to a violation ofreligious traditions. There were more than 300 pupils. The most of girls who practice Islam, were always wearing headscarves in school, what corresponded to their religious traditions and school charter [8].
The Ministry of Education of the Stavropol Territory supported the position of school director, because the school charter approved the form of clothes for all pupils.
As parents insisted on their own position, then the public authorities took the appropriate measures.
The Government of Stavropol Territory took the decision to ban girls from Muslim families to come to school wearing the hijab — religious headscarves.
The parents appealed this decision to the court, including the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.
The Stavropol Regional Court declared the decision of the Government of Stavropol Territory lawful. And then, the Supreme Court of Russia on 10 July 2013 agreed with the Government of Stavropol Territory banning girls from Muslim families to come to school wearing the hijab — religious headscarves.
Thus, the Court found no violation of the right to education and gender discrimination in education in a ban on the hijab.
It should be also noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the decision. On the issue of the wearing of religious headscarves (hijab) in schools, he said: «There is nothing good. There are, of course, the national peculiarities in the national republics. But it is a demonstration of the well-known relationship to religion. In our country and in the Muslim regions had no such tradition» [11].
This case has influenced the public policy in education. For example, in April 2013 a bill on school uniforms for all pupils in the educational state organisations was introduced in the State Duma (Inferior chamber of Russian Parliament).
Under the bill, each region had to set requirements for clothing for school. As noted by the State Duma deputy Olga Timofeeva, «We enable the regions to establish uniform requirements for the clothing of pupils, taking into account local circumstances, wishes of schools, students and their parents». Requirements should be established in order to provide pupils with a comfortable and aesthetic clothing, shaping their sense of belonging to the educational organization, improve mental attitude of pupils at the school, securing the secular character of education, eliminate the signs of social status, wealth, and religious differences among pupils, strengthen their unity and discipline [7].
It should be noted that Article 4 of the Federal Law «On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations» № 125-FZ of 26. 09. 1997 states: In accordance with the constitutional principle of separation of religious associations from the state, the state provides a secular education in state educational organizations [6].
Since 1 September 2013 in the Russian regions were introduced mandatory requirements for pupils' clothing.
At the federal level also have been adopted uniform requirements for the appearance of pupils and school uniforms. Uniform requirements apply to all regions, but each of them takes a normative act, detailing the federal provisions, taking into account the climatic characteristics and traditions of a particular locality in the development of requirements for school uniforms.
It is important to note that these requirements apply only to schools and do not apply to universities.
And finally, on 4 June 2014 was adopted the Federal Law of 04. 06. 2014 N 148-FZ «On Amending the Federal Law» On Education in the Russian Federation», so called «law on school uniform» [5].
Section 6. International law
Thus, article 38 of the Federal Law «On Education in the Russian Federation» was adopted in the new edition: «Pupils' clothes. Uniforms and other clothing and equipment (outfit) of pupils».
Under this article:
«1. Organizations engaged in educational activities, have the right to establish requirements for clothing of students, including the requirements for its general appearance, color, style, a type of clothing students, insignia, and the rules ofwearing it, unless otherwise provided by this Article. Appropriate local normative act of organization engaged in educational activities, shall take into account the opinion of the Board of the students, of the Board of the parents, as well as of employees' representative body of the organization or of its students (if any).
2. State and local organizations engaged in educational activities on educational programs of primary general, basic
and secondary education, must establish requirements for clothing of pupils in accordance with the standard requirements, approved by the authorized bodies of state power of subjects of the Russian Federation…».
Thus, the situation found its final completion. Pupils in public schools are required to abide by the rules established by the school.
For the children of those parents who feel the need to wear religious clothing, there are four options to choose the type of education: family, part-time, evening form, externship. It is also possible to send their children to a private school.
It should be noted that the same kind of decision was made in France in 2004. The law N2004−228 on 15 March 2004 banned wearing of religious dress in public schools at all levels.
1. Convention against Discrimination in Education I960 (UNESCO)//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //portal. unesco. org/en/ev. php-URL_ID=12 949&-URL_DO=D O_TOPIC& amp-URL_SECTION=201. html
2. Convention on the Elimination ofAll Forms of Discrimination against Women 1979//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: https: //treaties. un. org/doc/Treaties/1981/09/19 810 903%2005−18%20AM/Ch_IV_8p. pdf
3. Constitution of the Russian Federation 1993//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //www. constitution. ru/ en/10 003 000−01. htm
4. Federal Law «On Education in the Russian Federation» № 273-FZ 2012//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: // www. rg. ru/2012/12/30/obrazovanie-dok. html
5. Federal Law of 04. 06. 2014 N 148-FZ «On Amending the Federal Law» On Education in the Russian Federation"// [Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //www. referent. ru/1/232 658
6. Federal Law «On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations» № 125-FZ of26. 09. 1997//[Electronic resource]. -Available from: http: //www. consultant. ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_170 122/
7. A bill on the introduction of school uniforms introduced in the State Duma (В Госдуму внесен законопроект о введении школьной формы). 23. 04. 2013//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //www. ansar. ru/ education/2013/04/23/40 108
8. The prosecutor’s office in the Stavropol region is dealing with the ban on hijabs in schools (Прокуратура в Ставропольском крае разбирается с запретом на ношение хиджаба в школе)//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //www. m. kavkaz-uzel. ru/articles/214 196/?page=2
9. Semenova N. The right to education in international law//International Law, — 2010, — № 3.
10. Stavropol school didn’t permit pupils in hijab to attend classes (Ставропольская школа не допустила до занятий учениц в хиджабе)//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //rn. pravda. ru/news/society/15−10−2012/1 131 381-hidgab-0/
11. «Hijab? There is nothing good!» — Putin answers to questions of Russians («Хиджаб? Ничего хорошего в этом нет!» -Путин отвечает на вопросы россиян) 25. 04. 2013//[Electronic resource]. — Available from: http: //www. ansar. ru/ sobcor/2013/04/25/40 180

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