New Brunswick Facility Provides Pool Time for Muslim Women and Children

July 24, 2006

Source: Home News Tribune

On July 24, 2006 the Home News Tribune reported, "Behind paper-covered windows, Muslim girls and women in stretch pants and T-shirts shed their headscarves one recent Sunday morning for two hours of splashing, swimming and socializing in the Cook/Douglass Recreation Center pool. Muslim women from across the state — lugging gym bags and directing daughters in Tinkerbell and pink princess swimsuits — downed cups of coffee and slipped on swimming goggles before plunging into the lap pool in their alternative swimsuits. Giggling girls coasted across the water on kickboards, floated on bright, spongy pool toys and somersaulted beneath the surface of the water. 'There are a lot of women who would like to swim,' said Monroe resident Gigi Osman, as she mimicked the breast stroke for her twin girls, Sherryhan and Nessreen, 10. 'But there's just not the outlet.' Women who follow the rules of Islam must cover all but their face and hands in public, making swimming at public pools or in the ocean a challenge. While some are lucky enough to have indoor, or secluded outdoor pools at home, attendees said, most rarely have the chance to swim. Others have never been taught how. That's what Rutgers Professor Suzanne Brahmia hoped to change when she organized the two-hour bimonthly gathering — HalalSisters Swimming — this past spring... Across the United States, private, organized swim sessions and lessons for Muslim women have popped up in cities with sizable Muslim populations like Seattle and Detroit. In New Jersey, participants said the gathering is the first of its kind. Organizers expect to see a heightened demand for the special swim time as the state's Muslim population continues to grow."