Gender Segregation By Tricycle

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The Kano State Government has suspended the implementation of a directive banning persons of opposite gender from boarding the same commercial tricycles throughout the state with effect from January, 2020.

The spokesperson of the agency responsible for implementing the law, Kano Hisbah Board, Lawan Fagge, said the decision was taken on Monday after consultation with the leadership of commercial tricycle operators “who pleaded for an extension of the implementation date.”

“The law has been suspended till further notice. The decision was taken after consultation with leadership of commercial tricycle operators who pleaded for extending the implementation date,” Mr. Fagge said.

The initial disclosure of this law took the social media by storm where the Commander General of Hisbah Board, Harun Ibn-Sina, who represented Governor Ganduje at the closing ceremony of 77thannual Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) organized by Zone A of Muslim Society of Nigeria (MSSN) held on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 at Bayero University, Kano banned persons of opposite gender from boarding same commercial tricycles.

Ibn-Sina who spoke on behalf of Ganduje stated that the state government is committed to upholding Islamic values. There is absolutely nothing wrong in upholding Islamic values that contribute hugely to the development of the society but this is worrying at a time when we want to implement visa-on-arrival policy, at a period when discrimination against women is beginning to wane in the World.

In Germany, Angela Merkel is the eighth and current Chancellor who is serving her fourth term in office. She is the first woman to be elected chancellor. In the United Kingdom, Theresa May served as the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019. In Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa. The opportunities for women are improving significantly worldwide.

In most advanced countries, religion is separated from governance but in the developing nations, policymakers foist policies that have no direct link to developmental issues. The hapless citizens have no option than to obey the rules of the society. Gender segregation law in Kano is not an isolated incident… and it was a cheering news when the law was suspended till further notice.

While laws were made in the United Kingdom to outlaw gender segregation sometime ago, we are making laws to promote it. In Saudi Arabia, women will no longer need the permission of male guardian to travel, according to the law published on Friday 2 August, 2019; it is a key step towards dismantling controls that have made women second-class citizens in their own country. They have also allowed women to apply for passports, register a marriage, divorce or child’s birth and be issued official family documents. That is something we would have thought was impossible few years back.

The question for Muslim scholar is, is gender segregation a misinterpretation of Islamic principles or there is something we are missing? If this law takes effect, I think we could as well unban women from sitting separately from men during meetings in public buildings. Where do we draw the line? There are diverging opinions and I think we need to do more to enlighten people what we stand to gain with this law before coming back to life.

It is an undeniable fact that Muslim women have struggled against inequality and restrictive practices in education, work force participation and family roles and such likes. It is my opinion that not all come from Islam itself but local cultural traditions that have been passed on from generations to generations.

Religious issue in Nigeria is extremely sensitive like a snail’s tentacle and people avoid it like a plague. Yes, Holy issues and religious rites are sacred and powerful but according to Kofi Annan, “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance,’’ and this is what our leaders should aspire to promote – to eliminate conflict, abject poverty and create employment opportunities for the citizens.
––Olusanya Anjorin, Lagos

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