Published February 03, 2008
Muslim women working at U.K. medical facilities are increasingly refusing to comply with the basic hygiene standard of rolling up their sleeves when their washing hands, it was reported.
According to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph, female workers are ignoring Britain's Department of Health rules requiring medics to be "bare below the elbow" because they consider showing any skin — outside the hands and face — immodest.
The guidelines were put into place to stave off the spread of infectious killer bugs like MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which have been implicated in the deaths of hundreds of hospital patients, according to the paper.
Hygiene experts said the standard should hold for all workers— even if it goes against their religion.
"I don't think it would be right to make an exemption for people on any grounds. The policy of bare below the elbows has to be applied universally," Dr. Mark Enright, professor of microbiology at Imperial College London told the Telegraph.
Some fear the enforcing the rules will open the door to lawsuits charging discrimination against female Muslims working within the medical professions.
The Islamic Medical Association, for one, has issued a statement that "no practicing Muslim woman — doctor, medical student, nurse or patient — should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow," according to paper.