Complaint over women-only exhibit

Last updated 05:00 27/08/2012
Paul Young
ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION: Paul Young objecting outside the Dowse Art Museum against a female-only video display.
Sophia al-Maria
Qatari writer and film-maker Sophia al-Maria.

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The Human Rights Commission has confirmed it has received complaints over an art exhibition that bans men from seeing it.

"The Commission will assess the complaints and respond to all parties as promptly as possible," it said in a statement.

A spokeswoman was unable to say how many complaints had been received.

The video, Cinderazahd: For Your Eyes Only, showed female friends and relatives preparing for a family wedding without their hijabs or veils.

Al-Maria asked for the video to be viewed only by women, as it was filmed in a female-only area of the home.

Paul Young, 60, criticised the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt after it was confirmed only women would be allowed to view a video display from Qatari writer and film-maker Sophia al-Maria.

The Dowse was "out of line" in allowing the viewings to be restricted, as it was "open discrimination" against 50 per cent of the population, he said.

The Dowse, along with Petone Settlers Museum, is operated by Hutt City Council, which was alerted to the potential human rights concerns around the work.

In his complaint to the Human Rights Commission, Mr Young said it was deeply offensive that the exhibit could be allowed to blatantly discriminate against men.

"We live in a secular society which supports tolerance of all beliefs, religious and otherwise. However, this is not to be at the expense of the potential exclusion of the male component of our population."

While Mr Young acknowledged that the traditions of the Muslim culture should be respected, they could not be allowed to impinge on human rights, he said.

Human rights legislation did not allow for exceptions on the basis of art or religious belief, Mr Young said.

Dowse director Cam McCracken knew nothing of the complaint when he was contacted by The Dominion Post yesterday. He would not comment till he had heard from the Human Rights Commission.

Note: Comments have now been closed on this story.

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Related story: Men banned from seeing Muslim exhibit

Contact Paul Easton
Hutt Valley reporter
Twitter: @pwe74

- The Dominion Post

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