... a blog of spirituality, events, and insights with an interfaith perspective
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Monash Health, the niqab and discrimination
One of Victoria's largest hospitals will change its policy on female-only care after a Muslim patient wearing a full-length niqab complained of discrimination during an antenatal visit at one of its clinics.
For Ziarata Zia, the niqab she wears – which reveals only her eyes, hands and feet – is central to her Muslim faith.
Ms Zia, who moved from Afghanistan to Melbourne in 2010, believes it is a sin to be seen without it or be touched by a man other than her husband or immediate family, except in an emergency.
Two years ago, a significant conflict arose during Ms Zia's antenatal consultation at a Monash clinic because she requested a female doctor. Afterwards she lodged a discrimination complaint at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
With advice from Victoria Legal Aid, Ms Zia resolved the matter before the hearing and was involved in a review of the hospital's policies by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
The commission found that the hospital's policy told pregnant patients who wanted to see a female midwife or doctor "for cultural or personal reasons" that this was not possible at Monash Health, and they should consider "other options of care".