Married Hindu nurses in South Africa win right to wear 'bindis' at work

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Johannesburg, Aug 30 : Married Hindu nurses at Durban's Addington hospital would soon be allowed to use 'bindis' on their forehead.

Peggy Nkonyeni, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health, said that Hindu nurses at the Addington hospital should be allowed to use the symbolic red dots after the hospital in a revised dress code had prohibited married Hindu nurses from wearing their traditional red 'dot', cultural strings, nose rings and studs.

According to News 24, Nkonyeni was quoted as saying that the government shall respect and protect religious and customary rights at all times, and that she respected the 'dot' as it symbolised the marital status of a Hindu woman.

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health said that it was a serious concern that the management was tolerant of cosmetic powder on the whole face, but intolerant when other women exercised their customary and religious rights by placing a powdered dot on their forehead.

"The revised dress code is an internal matter and the department was not consulted when this dress code was developed," said Nkonyeni, and added, "As a government institution we cannot be seen to be infringing on constitutional rights of individuals, especially the staff".

Nkonyeni said, "Just as we respect the right of married women to wear their wedding rings, we also believe that similar treatment and respect must be accorded to Hindu women wearing their dots."

Meanwhile, the department has instructed the hospital management to discuss the issue with the affected staff members and find a solution.

ANI

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