Must We Take Off Our Headscarf For The National Identification Card?
In accordance with plans by the government to ensure that, all Ghanaians have been appropriately identified and documented, the government of Ghana introduced the Ghana Card. This project, specially launched by the Vice President, H.E Mahmoud Bawumia is hoped to be successful contrary to the defunct national identity card.
The registration process started with the Adentan constituency and currently, residents in the Madina Constituency are undergoing their Ghana card registration. This morning, The Today’s Muslim received a report from a resident of Madina who lamented about an ordeal she went through in getting her Ghana card.
She narrated; “I went out today, Tuesday December 18 2018, at about 10 am as a patriotic citizen to register for the new national identity card at the Madina UN Central Mosque. I obediently joined the queue until it got to my turn. I was assisted by an agent of the NIA who helped me fill my forms before presenting it to the other agents so I could take a photograph for my card. My finger prints were taken and I readily took off my niqab for the photograph, exposing my face and ensuring that my ears were visible as well.
I thought I was done, only to be told to take off my hijab completely so that my hair would be exposed before I would be allowed to take the picture. I vehemently opposed the directive. After wrangling over the matter for a while, they called their supervisor who told to me that, this was a new order from above. I showed them the picture on my passport which had my face and ears revealing but still covered in hijab. However, they were still not convinced. Every other document of mine including my voters ID and health insurance card has similar picture of me in hijab with my face and ears showing. This new ‘order from above’ seemed odd to me so I kept defending my stance until another lady who I suppose works with the National Identification Authority joined the wrangle. To my surprise, she asked me: ‘Madam, are you sure you are a Ghanaian?’ After showing her my passport, I still spent another half-an-hour trying to convince them that I didn’t have to take off my hijab to be able to take the picture. Eventually, there was no option for me but to take off my hijab only so I could complete the process – a decision I will regret for the rest of my life.
Later after I had completed the registration process, one of the NIA workers who was also a Muslim, told me an old lady sitting beside me did not take off her “duku” (hair gear) but was allowed to take the picture.”
Nabeela’s situation is often common when it is time for individual identity registration in Ghana. In the past, voter registration has been faced with this same issue where some registration centers make it mandatory for Muslim women to remove their headscarf before taking a picture. Some Muslim students have equally reported similar cases where they were mandated to remove their headscarf before being allowed to take a picture for student ID cards. The question Nabeela and many like her are asking is, is there a law that supports the claim that Muslim women have to take off their headscarf before they are allowed to take any identity picture? What is the best way we can reach a consensus to ensure that, such problems are not encountered during registration? What are our leaders, especially the Muslim leaders doing about this issue?
Credit: Nabeela Bansy
Image Credit: HijabTytude.Where fashion meets modesty