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Auckland Council apologises to Muslim woman after ejection from West Wave Pools

Auckland Council apologises to Muslim woman after ejection from West Wave Pools
July 25, 2019

Auckland Council has blamed confusion about rules on appropriate swimwear for an “unfortunate” incident that saw a Muslim woman ejected from the West Wave Pools in the suburb of Henderson.

Amid confusion over that the woman was wearing, the Council has also apologised to her over the incident.

A witness to the incident said that the woman was part of a larger group that had swimwear on that covered her head down to the arms and legs, referring to the outfit as being a ‘burkini’ that was made of swimming-appropriate material.

The woman told the New Zealand Herald “one woman went into the pool with her kids and that’s when she was singled out by the lifeguard and told to leave.”

Auckland Council’s acting Manager of Active Recreation Jane Aickin said that the outfits the women were swimming in were not thought to be ‘burkinis’, also known as burqinis.

Originally designed in Australia by Aheda Zanetti as an option for women who want to conserve their modesty in respect of Islamic traditions, the term 'burkini' has become universal for any part or full body covering worn by Muslim women in aquatic and beach environments.

The centre’s website says that “appropriate” swimwear is to be worn at all times. While this includes swimming togs, shorts above the knee and rash top underwear and denim shorts are not permitted.

Aicken advised “we accept that this can be confusing at times and are working hard to try to clarify these rules for everyone.”

Islamic Women’s Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman asked West Wave Pools to reconsider its swimwear policy to allow for swimwear that covers the full body, stating “it’s really important that all members of the community have public pools that are accessible to them both for water safety reasons and for recreation.

“Particularly living in a country like New Zealand, having water safety skills is hugely important and we know not enough Muslim women are getting those skills. I think Auckland council themselves have acknowledged that and are keen to improve accessibility so that’s why this incident is so unfortunate.”

Aickin has apologised and told one member of the group that she would be made to feel welcome on her next swimming pool visit.

Earlier this year a woman complained after she was singled out at Auckland council’s Albany Pool because her bikini was judged to be too skimpy.

A number of French municipalities have previously issued bans on Muslim women being covered and wearing burkinis at beaches in France.

Image: The wave pool at West Wave Pools.

Related Articles

17th May 2017 - Auburn swimming pool introduces privacy screen for Muslim women

9th April 2017 - Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan models the burkini

21st August 2016 - Burqini creator defends swimwear against French beach ban

30th November 2014 - Two West Wave staff win New Zealand Fitness Awards

5th February 2011 - New headscarf helps Muslim women swim safely

12th August 2010 - Muslim Women Expelled from French Swimming Pool

25th May 2010 - Adventure World Perth apologises for ban on Muslim Swimming Dress

10th November 2009 - West Wave Aquatic Centre named Waitakere’s best large business

14th September 2009 - Aussie Burqini a Global Success

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