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Kerala medical students seek special dress for hijab norms during surgery

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In a move that can stoke up controversy and bring up the hijab debate, seven students from a Kerala Government Medical College have written to the principal to find an alternative to the dress code so they can follow the hijab norms as well as perform surgeries.

The students who are pursuing the MBBS course have sent the letter saying that wearing hijab is mandatory for Muslim girls.

“Hijab-wearing Muslim have a difficult time, finding a balance between donning complaint religious attire and maintaining modesty while also complying with hospital and operation room regulations,” the letter reads.

“Long sleeve scrub jackets and surgical hoods are available which allow us to maintain sterile precautions as well as our hijab,” the letter states.

The letter also suggests alternatives based on the uniform health workers in other parts of the world and options offered by companies that manufacture clothing for surgical procedures.

The principal of the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Dr Lynette Morris has formed a committee to discuss the student’s demands. The results of the discussion will come within 10 days, said the principal.

“The demand of the students cannot be accepted for now. International standards are maintained in operation theatres. The patient’s safety is paramount,” the principal told the media.

The request comes at a time when there has been a huge debate about hijab and whether it should be allowed in educational and professional institutes with a dress code. Last year, the Karnataka government had circulated an order banning hijab on an educational campus which the current Karnataka government is considering to take back. This divided the public opinion widely and the matter even went to the courts.

The Karnataka High Court had upheld the government order, saying hijab is not an essential practice in Islam. This verdict was challenged in Supreme Court. A two-judge bench delivered a split verdict, with one judge upholding the high court ruling and the other rejecting it. The Supreme Court has said that it will create a three-judge bench to hear the matter.

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