Teachers at an independent school in the Arab country of Qatar have just been banned from getting pregnant.
The principal of the school, which has just achieved independent status (upgraded from semi-independent), informed staff that she would not allow new applications from pregnant teachers, which means it also applies to the teachers who must re-apply for their jobs since it changed status.
"I am against recruiting pregnant women as teachers," the principal reportedly told the school staff. The principal even told married teachers not to get pregnant to ensure that their work performance would not be affected.
The new status brings new pressures for performance and the principal fears that pregnancy and maternity leave would hurt their chances.
For obvious reasons, the international community, teachers at the school, women in academia, and the human rights community are outraged.
"This is a violation of human rights, Qatari rights, Arab Labor Rights for women and Islamic Laws,” Dr. Fadwa El Guindi, Head of the Department of Social Sciences at Qatar University told The Media Line. "There is nothing that says when you are working you cannot be pregnant."
Of course, as outrageous as this now may seem to us, it wasn't all that long ago that pregnancy in the United States was viewed the same way.
As recently as the 1950s, teachers would hide their pregnancies and often were asked to resign when they started to show. It wasn't all that long ago that "bump watches" and pregnancy chic would have been regarded as uncouth displays of something most women were embarrassed to advertise.
This is a time in the world where we should be moving forward in this arena. And this new policy seems to be moving women in the opposite direction. What is so shocking about a pregnant belly? Will maternity leave really affect academic standards so dramatically that her worth in the other nine months of the year is non-existent?
It's ridiculous and unfair, and even though it's something happening thousands of miles away from where many of us live, it's something we need to know about. Fifty years ago, it wasn't all that different here. We have come far, but in many parts of the world, including here when it comes to maternity leave, there is still much left to fight.
What do you think of this ban on pregnancy?
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