Staff working at Kuredhoo Island Resort have alleged that the resort five months ago issued a notice stating that it would not be renewing the contracts of female staff members wearing the headscarf, and had since dismissed at least one staff member over the matter.
A staff member currently working at the resort told Minivan News that a notice regarding the matter was issued by the resort five months ago.
“There was a female staff member who wore the headscarf who was asked to leave her job two months ago because the resort’s management refused to renew her employment contract [because] she wears a headscarf,” he claimed.
A second staff member Minivan News spoke to also claimed the resort had notified staff that it would not renew the contracts of staff wearing the headscarf.
The allegation first appeared on the Dhivehi Post news blog, which quoted a female staff member at the resort as saying that elderly women living on a nearby island, employed by the resort for cleaning jobs, were issued the same notice.
Human Resources Manager at Kuredhoo Khadeeja Adam said she did not wish to comment on the matter and referred Minivan News to the resort’s General Manager.
Kuredhoo’s General Manager Andrea Nestle also refused to comment on the matter, but said the allegations she had read in her translation of the Dhivehi Post report were incorrect. She referred Minivan News to the head of Champa Trade and Travels in Male’, Abdulla Saleem.
Saleem told Minivan News that the resort policy was established by the resort’s management team, and said he had nothing to do with the policy.
”The management team works very independently and we have no influence on them,” he said.
Secretary General of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Mohamed ‘Sim’ Ibrahim, told Minivan News that the issue was a “very sensitive” one, “because some [guests] get a bit taken aback. Some are a bit worried about it because they associate the dress with fundamentalism and militant Islam.”
“We don’t want to encourage people to wear the full burqa when they are serving tourists at the front desk, the first line of contact with guests,” he said.“But we don’t have a problem with them working in the office, or in general. It’s up to the resort owner.”
He noted that the right to wear the headscarf was a fundamental right, but that it was also a legal right for a resort to designate its own uniform and dress code.
The issue of discrimination, he noted, had led to “huge problems” in countries such as France.
A French law passed in 2004 banning the display of religious affiliation in schools, including dress and iconography, sparked protests across the Muslim world and also in countries such as the United States which expressed concern that the restrictions violated the France’s international human rights commitments.
In September 2010, the French Senate passed a bill 246 to 1 making it illegal to wear veils covering the face, with fines of €150 for women and €30,000 for men who forced their wives to do so, doubled in the case of minors.
Amnesty International condemned the French bill as a violation of freedom of expression.
“States have an obligation under international law to respect the human rights of everyone without discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status; to protect them against abuses of those rights by third parties, including by private actors within their families or communities; and to ensure they are able to exercise those rights in practice,” the international humanitarian organisation claimed.