In a supposed attempt to encourage Muslim women to learn how to swim, several Finnish swimming pools, public and private alike, have introduced women-only hours and special courses oriented toward immigrants, Finnish broadcaster Yle reports.
The Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation says that the long-term goal of their Swimming Skills for All project is to train instructors with immigrant backgrounds, so that they can teach others in their own language.
The project will be funded by taxpayers through the Finnish National Agency for Education.
“Initially we had doubts about whether we would get enough students for a full batch, but the reception was great and we got a lot of people,” Outi Penkkala, a teacher at Raseko Regional Education and Training Consortium, said.
Across Finland, separate swimming hours for men and women have become increasingly popular.
Despite their non-gender-neutral and gender-segregationist approach, the Turku-based Petrelius swimming pool’s weekly women-only shifts have reportedly become an enormous success.
Gulbahar Afghan, a Muslim woman who’s living in Finland told Yle, “Swimming at the same time as men is not possible. It is forbidden in our culture.” She also said that she had never been given the chance to swim in her home country.
In Finland and across different European states who’ve embraced mass immigration from the Muslim world, there is still an ongoing debate as to what kind of swimwear should be permitted at swimming pools.
While some pools allow women to swim in outfits called ‘Burkinis’, which have hoods, long sleeves, and leggings, others say that Burkinis shouldn’t be permitted to maintain the hygiene and security of the pool. At the same time, many of the pools in Finland don’t allow shorts to be worn as swimwear.
Pools who have banned burkinis have been accused of discriminating based on gender and religion.
Although Muslims comprise just 2.7 percent of Finland’s population of 5.5 million, the demands they’ve already begun to place upon Finnish society are alarming.