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September 08, 2006



yikes! I have Muslim friends and they don't have a problem with normal hospital gowns. I wonder whose idea this was and if it was politically motivated.

spinal tap

Oh- for heaven's sake--
Why not just wrap up in a couple of sheets?

Alexandra Foley

I don't think it was politically motivated. I think someone really did just see a niche in the market. Everyone is an enterpreneur these days!

Ignorant me had no idea that "Rastafarian" was a faith. I thought it was just an MTV invention (kidding) and had no idea that modesty was on of its tenents.


Hospital gowns are worn for one purpose only: to make it easier for the medical staff to examine and treat the patient. Aren't patients also (usually) covered up by their bedding? I can't imagine trying to check changes in skin color, accessing IV ports, or in general seeing how the patient looks in that contraption! If a patient has concerns about being seen while being transported within a hospital, I would understand a request to take a blanket or sheet along if necessary to cover onesself properly (as long as you don't get it caught in the wheels) and perhaps even the wearing of head scarves while moving about, but in a semiprivate, same sex room? Aren't those great floor to ceiling curtains they pull around the bed supposed to provide privacy while allowing the medical profession to do their job? I'm all for modesty, but in the middle of delivering a baby or being treated for breast cancer, I understand that too much modesty may mean death. I have the feeling that some Muslim men have a big problem with allowing male physicians access to treat their wives, and that their lack of common sense may even keep these women from being able to receive medical care at all. Presumably, Muslim societies encourage smart young women to become physicians themselves, to treat the female population, but I bet the statistics on that happening are small. If there are any Muslim modesty bloggers out there, maybe you can clue us in.


I'm sure there are women of every religious stripe who would prefer to have their faces covered during gynecological exams. I'm not one of them, but to each her own.


A much simpler option that usually isn't too difficult to come by: simply ask for a female doctor, nurse, technician, etc. Sometimes, obviously, you have to take what you can get- especially if you are in a serious/emergency situation- but when I had to get an EKG/EEG every few weeks, I always asked for a female to administer the test and this was always respected. You can always ask.

The issue of appropriateness is always one I feel that many people don’t seem to understand: a different standard is going to be acceptable for worship services v. the operating table of the hospital.

Mary O'Hayes

Ludicrous. "Interfaith gown," my a**.
Wendy, you're right, this gown wasn't designed for Hindus or Rastafarians. But people in England are bending over backwards to not offend Muslims. Non-Muslims are more offended for Muslims than Muslims are. An example is the white, non-Muslim teacher who took Winnie the Pooh books out of her library so as not to offend Muslims with the Piglet character. Or the bank which stopped giving out piggy banks. Not because a Muslim person was offended, but because someone at the bank thought it might be offensive. The world has gone wacky in so many ways.

The outfit is beyond ridiculous and has no place in a modern hospital.

Mary O'Hayes

As one of the commenters noted back on the Manchester Evening News website, it's hardly considered modest for Orthodox Jewish women to wear trousers.


If that is the hospital gown, why aren't they just wearing their regular clothing?


I don't know, maybe there are secret openings we can't see that somehow make the gown more accessible than it seems?

I wish I could know how Muslims view the gown (not that there is just one view) but I would be curious. But maybe we don't have any Muslim commentators.


Re: Jewish Law

It's true that in a case of need, the laws of tznius / erva (modesty and nakedness) do not apply. However, why shouldn't one try and minimize the need for such a leniency?

Most hospital gowns are, furthermore, not worn exclusively during exams, but are the standard garb given out to patients. During the 99% of the time, when there is no such need, why not have a more suitable form of dress?


Hi Mike,

You are quite right, my issue is just with the need to call it an interfaith gown when (have you seen the picture?) it's a bit more tilted to one particular faith than the others mentioned.

I don't have a problem, in principle, with having a burqua hospital gown available, or a gown that covered the clavicle, elbows and knees (and calling it an Orthodox gown). It's calling the burqa-like gown an "interfaith" gown that confuses me. I feel like something's not being said.


I agree with you 100% on the politics.

I was just pointing out that in the abstract, it's a good idea.

M. Landers

I can not comment for all Muslims, obviously, but I will say the following for my own point of view at least:

"I have the feeling that some Muslim men have a big problem with allowing male physicians access to treat their wives ..."

I'm uncomfortable with this remark, largely because it appears to play into the image of the Domineering Muslim Man. A lot of Muslim men are uncomfortable with their wives being seen undressed by other men, yes. A lot of Muslim women are uncomfortable being seen undressed by other men. A lot of Muslim men are uncomfortable being seen undressed by other women. A lot of Muslim women are uncomfortable with their husbands being seen undressed by other women. It's an idea of propriety and, yes, modesty, not one of dominance. You will not find so many men or women, however, who would willingly see their spouses left sick or injured simply for not being able to find a capable doctor of the same gender. What you will find sometimes is people of both genders nervous of seeking medical treatment for the sake of their own discomforts.

"Presumably, Muslim societies encourage smart young women to become physicians themselves, to treat the female population, but I bet the statistics on that happening are small."

I don't know for all Muslim societies, but here in Egypt at least I know that there is no problem to find female physicians, and medical school is considered one of the most desirable higher education choices for women.

"I wish I could know how Muslims view the gown (not that there is just one view) but I would be curious."

I personally view it as harmless, if perhaps unnecessary ... if a hospital wishes to insist that a woman's head covering and, if worn, face covering be made of paper, that's their business. But no one should interpret that to mean Muslim people are telling them that the religious requirements of covering come before the religious requirements of taking care of one's body, or that to cover means medical staff will be refused access when it is needed.


This is an old post now but I came across it and wanted to comment, since I am Muslim (and in general I've noticed a certain discomfort among some of the posters and commenters on this site when it comes to Islam and its tenents on modesty. I have to say, don't buy into the media's image of Islam. If you can watch the movie "Not Without My Daughter" and it seems accurate to you...read some more, well-chosen books about Muslims or even go out and find some to talk to!)
Back on topic...those gowns seem unnecessary to me. Although I do like the idea of a long-sleeved, long garment for hospital use, because I personally feel very exposed and vulnerable even around other women in those little aprons that are otherwise standard. Muslim women are supposed to cover from the knees to the neck (arms not included) around other Muslim women, and many feel uncomfortable being "open" around women who aren't Muslim. For the purpose of medical treatment it's certainly allowed BUT some women will almost definitely still feel uncomfortable about it.

And Islam clearly allows women to be treated by male doctors, with the provision that they do prefer female doctors if such are available. The order of preference would go: female Muslim doctor, male Muslim doctor, female non-Muslim doctor, male non-Muslim doctor. I myself had to be prodded into letting a male doctor examine a persistent rash on my calf by my (non-domineering, non-misogynist) Muslim husband. I would have preferred to wait until I could see a female doctor.


I am a 25 year old Muslim women. I wear hijab (head scarf). To be honest i think this type of hospital gown is a little ridiculous. Our faith teaches us that for medical reason we may be examined by male and female doctor - so this form of dress seems a little inappropriate. Okay so maybe something like a robe to cover you in the halls would be nice.. but to wear this during an examination is impractical. I am very religious but believe their is no such need for this level of 'modesty' when it comes to be examined by a doctor for my health.


This post is a bit old but id like to point out that they said there are two different types of head covering presumabley one without the burkah and one with and they trousers can be optional!! Another thing is that most hospitals nowadays prefer to put the iv in the womans han dduring labor in order to minimize tangleing!! this gown is a great idea and i wish they would at least make them with longer sleeves here in the us. (they do but dont give them out inthe hospital to women that need them) and amnother thing could be done to aliviate the inacessability they could put snaps down each arm so that the doctor can examine the arm and a central iv for those with small veins in the hand can be put in. I personally prefer covering my hair no matter what because i feel totally naked without the hijab on no matter what!! This gown is a good idea in the works but can be modified to be more accessable to the doctors!!


There is a website that offers just this: http://www.modesthospitalgowns.com/


I find it interesting that a patient's comfort level during non-emergency situations is given so little consideration. The bottom line is, if a patient prefers to cover any part of his or her body for any reason, religious or not, hospital staff should respect that request. And even in emergency situations it is the patient's right to decide who can see what.

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