20 April 2009

A Debate Over A Story About Dress Codes

We recently received an email about a report by Abuja-based correspondent Gilbert da Costa headlined “Nigerian Muslim Nurse Sacked for Violating Dress Code.”

The report earlier this month said the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, one of the largest health facilities in northern Nigeria, had fired a nurse named Safiya Ahmed for allegedly persistently violating the dress code for nurses at the hospital by wearing an unapproved hijab or head covering. The report went on to say Muslim groups were calling the woman’s dismissal unfair and a violation of her constitutional rights.

Our email writer, a faculty member at Ahmadu Bello University, said that she had a daughter who was a nursing student at the school and that she and her daughter were both “aware of what is the dress code requirement for both students and staff nurses.” She notes the dress criteria were set by the Nursing Council of Nigeria and established mainly “for the purpose protecting the health interests of both patients and the medical personnel.”

She complains the VOA report was incomplete “because you only report about one side and did not bother to hear what the other side (teaching hospital) has as a reason for the action. This kind of act is what initiates and precipitates misunderstandings and because religious sentiments are involved, some serious problems may arise.”

We forwarded the faculty member’s comments to correspondent da Costa, who responded that he believes his piece “highlighted the position of the hospital authorities on the matter.”

Correspondent da Costa concedes that it might have been better to have a recorded interview with a hospital official. But he feels, “having anchored the story on the stated position of the medical facility, I sincerely think that all sides had their views amply conveyed in my reporting.”

If you have questions or comments about any of the stories on VOANews.com, please send them to us here at the NewsBlog and we will try to get a response for you.

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