(JollofNews) – An opposition party in the Gambia has called on President Yahya Jammeh and his government to stop meddling in the personal lives of female civil servants in the country.
As reported in your JollofNews on Monday, President Jammeh, who cultivates the image of a practising Muslim and is often seen holding a Qur’an and prayer beads, has issued a directive urging female civil servants to cover their hair while at work.
But the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), has waded into the debate and reminded the president that it is not the business of the government to dictate to women how they should manage their hair.
“Mr president, the way women should manage their hair is not the business of the executive,” said Halifa Sallah, executive member of the PDOIS.
“This is their personal life and no one should infringe on their freedom of choice on how they should look. A person of clout does not exploit soft targets to promote an agenda. We wish to assure you that if you insist on dictating how women should maintain their hair in offices you will alienate yourself from many of the women folk of the country.”
The party added that men with moral values should not be intimidated by the way women dress or styles their hairs.
It stated that women in the country would find it hard to understand how a president who has never hesitated to support beauty contests among school girls and award scholarships to winners has all of sudden decided to tell them how they should dress.
The party added: “This is the height of patriarchy. This is the danger posed by self perpetuating rule and having permanent male dominance of high office. The women of the Gambia have a duty to put an end to such male arrogance and chauvinism by becoming politically active and struggle to occupy the highest posts or ensure that no male occupies that post who would treat women as their children, chattel or possessions.
“The executive should be told in unequivocal terms that women employees are not children. They are adults with their ways of life to live. Some have husbands and others are either without or are hoping to attract a partner. They would not wear what they are not comfortable in wearing. When one visits offices one finds women with and without head ties. Some put on Islamic attire and others have their hair plaited. Each dresses according to her own taste. This is their own prerogative.
“Employers who do not buy clothes for them have no right to tell them how to dress or manage their hair. Women who hold strong Islamic values need not be told to put on veil. They know what their religious obligations are but there are those who do not hold those values. They and their male partners go to night clubs and so on and so forth. Those are their values. They have no other obligation but to give service to the state for money.
“A man with moral values would not be intimidated by the way women dress not to mention the way the woman styles her hair. Any man who is tempted to rape a woman because of dress is a virtual beast. No human being should enjoy pleasure from the pain of another human being. Any religious person should know that the world is both for the religious and the mundane and no religious person would compel others to live a life in the open that they are opposed to in secret. That would amount to sheer double standards.”
The party said forcing women to cover their hair when at work only for them to remove the cover after work will transform Gambian women into robots and marionettes at the mercy of the executive.
“They would do things just to obey executive orders,” it added.
“Those who respect women would not subject them to executive orders which are not based on any law or regulation but on the mere whims and caprices of a person in position of power. Absolute power leads to unrestrained impunity.
“Pious people know the type of world they would want to live in but cannot impose their values on others whose ways of life are not a threat to theirs. If Gambians with certain values cannot tolerate others with different values they would still co- exist with tourists or travel to countries where they would have to accept diversity. Uniformity in social values only exists in fairy tale. There should be no compulsion in the way a woman should maintain her hair.”