Sharia hits Auckland public pools


UMMA Trust swimming programme co-ordinator Dahaba Hagi, aqua aerobics instructor Dianne Saecker-Battley and UMMA Trust manager Anne Lee.

Over recent years we have had honour killings, child marriages, and now we have sharia law being implemented in our public pools. Muslims in New Zealand are now following closely the patterns established by Islamic Scholars in Europe and Britain.

Men are being banned from an Auckland public swimming pool every Sunday night to allow women to swim uninterrupted.

A section of Mt Albert Aquatic Centre is closed off once a week for women-only swim nights.

Women-only swim times implemented at Auckland public pool

Men are being banned from an Auckland public swimming pool every Sunday night to allow women to swim uninterrupted.

A section of Mt Albert Aquatic Centre is closed off once a week for women-only swim nights.

The new programme is attracting between 50 to 100 women, mostly refugees, with some travelling from Hamilton to the pool each week.

A black plastic curtain separates the lane pool from the rest of the facility and all the windows around the pool are closed off.

The UMMA Trust, which work with Auckland’s refugee and migrant families, is behind the initiative and hire out the pool each week.

The trust’s manager Anne Lee says the nights are open to all women who are unable to swim in public spaces due to cultural, religious or health reasons.

The majority of the women are migrants who come from countries where they are used to having separate facilities for men and women, Lee says.

She says the pool’s management, Belgravia Leisure, is accommodating and makes sure the men’s entry to the pool is closed off and that only female lifeguards are on duty.

While some use the time for recreational swimming, other women use it to build their confidence in the water.

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Lee recalls one migrant woman, who attends the Mt Albert pool, who was once terrified of the water.

As a 9-year-old, she fled her country on a boat which had been hijacked by pirates who threw people in the water and watched them drown.

“She wouldn’t even go into the water because she was just terrified,” Lee says. “But she wanted to be confident of the water so she could bring her children swimming.”

With the help of aqua aerobics instructor Dianne Saecker-Battley, the woman is now confident enough to move away from holding on to the side of the pool.

About 80 Muslim women also attend private swimming lessons run at Cameron Pool in Mt Roskill.

Swimming programme co-ordinator Dahaba Hagi says swimming is an important part of the Muslim religion.

“For Muslims it’s promoted as part of the religion that everyone should learn how to swim and they want their children to swim,” she says.

“But many don’t swim themselves or are too frightened to let their children come to pool.”