Dignity Gowns Respect Muslim Hijab in Hospitals

CAIRO – Hospitals in England’s south west county of Dorset are offering new gowns to women wishing to cover during their stay in hospitals, after receiving many complaints that the earlier gowns violated the rules of Islam.

“Our trust is always seeking to improve the experiences of our patients and patient feedback is incredibly important to us,” Sue Mellor, the Christchurch Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH) patient engagement manager, told Huffington Post.

“We work with as many minority and religious groups as possible to make sure we are catering for the needs of all our patients.”

The new gowns are offered at Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH).

Mellor highlighted that the new gowns were suggested after many Muslim women said they find traditional gowns uncomfortable.

She added that gowns will also be suitable for those of Hindu, Orthodox Jewish and Rastafarian faiths.

“When working with a focus group of Muslim ladies, we received very strong feedback that having to wear the usual hospital gown made them extremely uncomfortable, because it puts them in a position where they have to violate the rules of their faith,” she said.

“We wouldn’t want this for any patient, so we introduced the new ‘multi-faith dignity gown’.”

The success of Muslim women efforts was remarkable for many who were excited by the new gowns.

“We are absolutely delighted the trust has introduced the new gowns,” Nada Fawal, a member of the patient focus group who helped to introduce the gown, said.

“For Muslim women, to have any flesh exposed, other than their face and hands, is like having very private parts of the anatomy, such as the breasts, displayed.

“This means wearing the normal hospital gown is uncomfortable for us.

“At the same time, we are also very conscious that when we are in hospital, NHS staff are trying to help us, so don’t want to make life difficult for them.

“Now, thanks to the new gown, we won’t have to worry about it, we can just request one of those – it’s a great relief.”

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.