British imam and broadcaster Ajmal Masroor has defended controversial ‘segregated swimming’ sessions, telling talkRadio that women “prefer a segregated pool where they can enjoy themselves without being an object of desire”.
He told talkRADIO: “Every time my wife and her sisters have been to a segregated session, the queue outside is at least an hour wait.”
But, questions remain as men, despite paying a lower fee and having earlier use of the facilities, are entitled to use the main 50-metre competition pool while women are restricted to only the 20 metre ‘community pool’.
Radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer hit out at the policy which she said was based on a belief that “it is bad for men and women to see large parts of each other’s bodies”.
Sessions banishing the opposite sex are being held on Friday evenings at Inspire Sports Village
She told Mr Masroor: “I wouldn’t be allowed to go to that pool on a Friday night in Luton if I lived locally simply because some men on religious reasons have some issue with seeing my body. I wouldn’t have a choice. I would be banned from going to that pool”.
“These men believe it is morally wrong for a man to see a woman’s chest or legs.” She continued: “I find that, as a Briton, offensive because that is bringing in a culture that demeans women. “Even though British culture is about being accepting, tolerant and open, when you bring in a culture that undermines that I think that is a problem.”
Last week an Active Luton spokesman defended the move as the facility simply responding to a local demand. He said: “We regularly provide opportunities for different groups in our programme, including many different activities and swimming sessions. Active Luton aims to provide everyone in our community, regardless of age, ability or ethnicity, with affordable and accessible opportunities to get active in ways which suit their wide-ranging needs and lifestyles.”
You can listen to the soundtrack of Julia Hartley-Brewer’s superb and probing Interview below: