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M'sian student creates first disposable hijab for UK hospital

Mar 24, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Thanks to the efforts of one medical student, Royal Derby Hospital in the U.K. is the first hospital to offer disposable hijabs for healthcare workers.

The disposable hijab was introduced by junior doctor Farah Roslan, a practicing Muslim, who came up with the idea during her training. She was wearing her traditional headscarf all day, which, she noted, was not particularly clean or “ideal.” Concerned the hijab might be a potential source of infection, she was told that she could not participate in the OR as a medical student.

Although she told BBC News that the decision to pull her from the operating room was done “respectfully,” she still felt like a solution could be reached that would allow her to take part in a way that would also respect her faith.

And so, she got to work.

Bringing Headscarves to Hospitals

Inspired by her homeplace of Malaysia, Roslan worked with her mentor, surgeon Gill Tierney, to design and introduce a disposable hijab that would be appropriate for infection-controlled settings, such as in the OR or working with patients in medical isolation.

Tierney told BBC News that the issue of nurses and doctors being forced to choose between their beliefs and their work has been an ongoing yet overlooked issue. "We know it's a quiet, silent, issue around theatres around the country and I don't think it has been formally addressed," she told the network.

Roslan and Tierney ultimately worked with University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust to unveil their design and the NHS Trust has become the first hospital to offer disposable hijabs for healthcare workers.

According to Tierney, the sterile, disposable hijabs have not “cost very much,” but are expected to have an “enormous” effect for the women who will wear them.

And the effect has already proven to be rather enormous, prompting many to applaud the move for increased representation in healthcare. The hospital tweeted out its news on December 11, writing, “We are proud to be national leaders of good practice and inclusivity. We believe we're the first Trust in the UK to introduce disposable sterile headscarves for staff to use in our Operating Theatres thanks to former Royal Derby Hospital Medical Student, Farah Roslan.”

In response, many celebrated the announcement. “LONG overdue,” wrote one user in response. “ A friend of mine who I was on placement with who wears the hijab was left in tears after theater staff said ‘you can’t wear that in here’ and laughed as they tried to wrap her head in theatre sheets, i felt so so sorry for her. well done Farah.”

Roslan herself tweeted that the news being featured in mainstream media was a “birthday gift” that she never expected: “Never have I thought I would get featured in a global mainstream media as my birthday gift this year.”

While most on social have celebrated the hospital introducing disposable hijabs, others are cautioning that while it’s a step in the right direction, there’s still more work to be done for full inclusivity. “They need long sleeves too,“ one Twitter user pointed out.

What Comes Next

The disposable hijabs, the Trust says, have been made available to nurses and doctors this month, and Roslan added that she hopes to introduce the design nationally.

But no matter what the future may hold for Roslan or the future of inclusivity and diversity within healthcare, the young doctor is proud to have made a difference. On her Twitter page, Roslan gave the final word on why she felt it was important to bring her idea to life.

“If you feel like something isn’t right, do something about it - you don’t always have to conform,” she wrote. “Do not change you who are (or what you believe in) while pursuing your goal or ambition.”

“Representation matters,” she added, along with the hashtag #surgicalheadscarf. “If you can’t find someone to represent you, perhaps you have to be one who does things first.

Malay PAP and WP MPs silent on PA saga with some refusing to comment

Jun 16, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Political leaders in positions of power have the privilege and the platform to chime in on matters concerning the community with the hope of reining in the outrage before it escalates into something worse.

Unfortunately, all the current Malay MPs from both the People’s Action Party and Workers’ Party either did not wish to comment on the PA saga or did not respond, according to TODAY.

Various Malay community leaders and former MPs gave their views on the matter when approached

Mr Zainal Sapari, former MP for Pasir Ris–Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that he would not frame the recent incident as a case of racism.

“I believe PA is true in its cause of promoting racial harmony and social cohesion,” the former PA grassroots adviser said.

“Despite their best efforts, such incidents do happen and will happen again in future, but I would not frame it as racism.”

He also hopes that this incident “does not dampen the spirit of many volunteers who want to serve the community, but may make some bad judgement calls unintentionally”.

“We should just apologise, learn from it and move on,” he added.

Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, former Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that the reactions to the incident should be one of understanding rather than taking on an accusatory tone.

“We need to continue to learn from each other — how do we appreciate each other’s cultures and differences and bring about better understanding and harmony — rather than to start pointing fingers,” the former Aljunied GRC MP said.

Mr Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, an interfaith activist and founding board member of the Centre for Interfaith Understanding, said that racism cannot just be confined to an act of an individual or a particular incident.

He said in a Facebook post on Tuesday — which he confirmed with TODAY was a response to the PA incident — that racism is a “structure, and a system of thinking and doing, that can manifest in an individual, group or social organisation through a style of thinking, speech and communication, law and policy, and physical action”.

“One has to go to the root source and identify what makes the individual think, say and act in a particular way,” he said in the post.

“Doing so would bring us to a point where we say it is not his, her, their or my problem, but it is our problem; that there is something wrong in the way we organise society.”

When asked to elaborate on his post, Mr Imran told TODAY that given the sensitivity of the issues concerning racism, we “must learn not to rush into saying that something is racist or not”.

He said that racism is experienced at the “everyday level” and one should be careful not to dismiss and invalidate the experiences of racism, especially among minorities.

“Instead, we must learn to ask ourselves what racism looks like, especially to those who are at the receiving end... Racism feels real, even if we don’t believe so.”

Mr Hazni Aris Hazam Aris, vice-chairman of AMP Singapore, a non-profit group serving the Muslim community, said that there needs to be a “paradigm shift” in how inter-racial relations are approached and understood.

“The types of conversations on race must progress beyond festivals and clothes, and move into understanding values and worldviews that shape how members of a race thinks or behaves.”