Blantyre, The Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) has denounced claims that it is harassing Muslim women when processing road traffic documents saying the office operates within the laws of the country.
Recent social media reports highlighted concerns from some Malawians who felt the need for Muslim women to remove their head gear (Hijab) when taking pictures for their traffic documents is harassment.
This has come in with a purpose of bringing to the attention of the whole Muslim community and the general public that all procedures undertaken by the department in processing every document are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1997 and Road Traffic Regulations 2000, reads a recent press statement issued by the DRTSS.
According to the DRTSS, all Muslim women are being assured that the department will endeavor to execute its roles and mandates in line with the legal framework and professionally without necessarily discriminating, victimizing or marginalizing anybody on the basis of creed, tribe, colour or social economic status.
In light of the foregoing, DRTSS management and Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) engaged in serious talks and an agreement was reached as to how Muslim women may not be required to remove the head gear entirely but they should at least expose necessary facial features for facial recognition, reads the statement in part.
However, speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Monday, spokesperson for Muslims Association of Malawi, Sheikh Dinala Chabulika, said what is important is not to remove the head gear.
While respecting that the Road Traffic Directorate has recently issued licenses to Muslim women with the head gear, can the road traffic directorate issue a license to women with artificial hair? said Chabulika.
According to Regulation 8 a (iv and v) of the Road Traffic (Driving License) Regulations (2000), it explicitly states that every applicant’s photograph must depict only the head and shoulders, and show the applicant’s full face without head gear.
Meanwhile, it is in this respect that clients who wish to have their images captured at DRTSS offices are requested to remove their head gear in order for the system to capture the necessary features for facial recognition.
According to Wikipedia, a Hijab is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim Women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA