Denmark: swimming for women only?

In twelve out of 98 Danish municipalities, there are at present certain times when the swimming pools are reserved for used by women only. This service, which is usually available outside the normal opening hours, is aimed particularly at Muslim women, but Denmark's Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bekab has criticised the special arrangement. Commentators in the national press express varying degrees of scepticism.

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Berlingske (DK) /

Muslims should build their own pools

Berlingske says gender segregation hinders integration:

“If Danish Muslims can't live with the idea of their daughters swimming with boys, then they should build their own swimming pools. It cannot be the role of Danish society to support a practice that runs counter to the fundamental Danish values of liberalism and equality - and crucial integration. ... After decades of failed integration, it should be clear that education, work and access to leisure activities are not enough. ... There must be a move away from fundamentalist Islam. ... In this process, the rejection of gender-segregated lessons in public swimming pools is a small but necessary step.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Ban unnecessary

Kristeligt Dagblad calls for calm:

“Local authorities should do their utmost to convince Muslims that there is no harm in men and women bathing under the same roof. There are good reasons to oppose Islam's over-sexualisation of gender differences at every opportunity. But a legal ban on gender-segregated swimming would be an unnecessary step right now, given the limited scope of the phenomenon.”