One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, and LSESUASH statement


Joint statement on legal note to Universiti​es UK against their guidance condoning gender segregatio​n

We are pleased to learn of the legal note submitted to Universities UK (UUK) yesterday in the name of Radha Bhatt, a student of Cambridge University, against their Guidance condoning gender segregation. Legal note can be found here [pdf].

We share Radha’s apprehensions that gender segregation reinforces
negative views specifically about women, undermines their right to
participate in public life on equal terms with men and
disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities,
whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled.

Radha’s legal submission makes it unmistakably clear that despite
UUK’s protestations, the law could scarcely be more unequivocal on
gender segregation. The practice is specifically condemned by the
Equality Act as amounting to less favourable treatment of women. We
hope it will be noted that this condemnation applies equally to
‘voluntary’ segregation, a notorious misnomer used to pressure
students to comply with ‘Mixed’ and ‘Segregated’ zones.

The existing rights legislation recognises that gender segregation
undermines the dignity of both men and women and creates a hostile,
degrading and humiliating environment. We hope Radha’s
representations will remind UUK of its Public Sector Equality Duty
towards the imperatives of eliminating discrimination, advancing
equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between those who
share protected characteristics.

Abhishek Phadnis, President of the LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and
Humanist Society commented: “The beliefs of visiting speakers are no
excuse to legitimise discrimination against women or any group. We
applaud Radha for her principled and courageous stand, and hope that
UUK will heed her solicitors’ advice to redraft its guidance to
reflect the manifest illegality of gender segregation. Following up on
our rally against gender segregation
< http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2013/12/12/uuk/>
, we are looking forward to continuing to work with Southall Black
Sisters, One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
to ensure that the rights of all students in the UK are fully upheld
at all times.”

Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters commented: “We welcome the
legal advice which clearly states that UUK’s position on gender
segregation in universities breaches both domestic and international
human rights and discrimination law in substance and in process. We
note that not a single women’s rights organisation was consulted about
the guidance. Had it gone unchallenged, it would have had a profoundly
detrimental impact on black and minority women who already struggle to
assert their fundamental rights to education, freedom and
independence. The whole sorry affair is symptomatic of a bigger battle
waged by the religious right (aided and abetted by public bodies like
the UUK) to control women’s minds and bodies. We must remain alert to
the dangers of religious fundamentalism in all religions because its
very goal is to use public spaces to gain power and to destroy the
very principles of democracy and the universality of women’s human
rights.”

Maryam Namazie, spokesperson for One Law for All and Fitnah –
Movement for Women’s Liberation said: “For too long, cultural
relativists have excused discrimination against women in the name of
‘respect’ for religious beliefs. Whilst the right to belief is
absolute, the right to manifest it is not. Equality must trump
religious beliefs, particularly if we want to respect human beings
rather than beliefs. Moreover, let’s not forget that Muslims are not
a homogeneous group. Endorsing segregation of the sexes means siding
with far-Right Islamists – like Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Federation of
Student Islamic Societies
< https://twitter.com/LSESUASH/status/419618999303819264/photo/1>
, the Islamic Education and Research Academy and the Islamic Human
Rights Commission – at the expense of rights and equality of many
Muslims, ex-Muslims and others. We unequivocally support Radha’s
stand and will continue to fight for an end to gender segregation at
universities, including via teams of sex apartheid busters and a rally
on March 8th
< http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/8-march-2014-london-rally-and-march-against-sex-apartheid-london/>
.”

You can find regular updates on our campaign here.
< https://www.facebook.com/pages/Separate-is-never-equal-Yes-to-equality-no-to-segregation/1389037734676086>

For further enquiries please contact:

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
maryamnamazie@gmail.com
077 1916 6731
@maryamNamazie

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
Pragna@southallblacksisters.co.uk
02085719595
@SBSisters

Chris Moos
LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
c.m.moos@lse.ac.uk
074 2872 0599
@LSESUASH

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    Radha’s legal submission makes it unmistakably clear that despite UUK’s protestations, the law could scarcely be more unequivocal on gender segregation. The practice is specifically condemned by the Equality Act as amounting to less favourable treatment of women.

    More and more I wonder why UUK listens to incompetent legal advisors.

  2. medivh says

    Al: when dealing with crimes and for-profit organisations, I often find myself confused as to how people can act so irrationally. Then I remember to ask myself “where’s the money?”

    UUK wants lecture halls hired out. iERA hires halls. iERA demands things that don’t seem to annoy other hirers. Money says “get (or cook up) some advice that says iERA gets what they want”. And now they can’t back down without looking weak; so they think, anyway…

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