In Response to Comments by Dr Raymond Richards
In Response to Comments by Dr Raymond Richards, University of Waikto
The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand notes with regret the comments of Dr Raymond Richards of the University of Waikato regarding the employment of Muslims, who are required to pray five times a day.
We note that it is against both the Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act for employers to discriminate against their employees on the basis of religious belief. Reasonable accommodation must be made for all employees, and in the vast majority of instances, the requirement for prayer will not impinge on the employees’ abilities to carry out their duties.
We already know, through the published work of other academics, that Muslim women face a high level of discrimination in gaining employment, even when they have proven skills and experience. Comments such as these from an academic like Dr Richards, even if they are made in a private capacity, will tend to carry more weight and increase the likelihood of discrimination in employment. The ability to gain paid employment is a huge factor in successful integration and social outcomes for any community.
We would be willing to meet with Dr Richards, to let him know first-hand of the experiences of young women in this country and to explain to him the impact of his words. We request the University consider this matter seriously, especially in light of their proposal to disestablish the Religious Studies department. Comments such as these highlight the importance of the teaching of comparative religions, to improve understanding between people of all faiths and those who choose to follow no religion.