Letter: The risks and advantages of hejab

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The Independent Online
Sir: Further to Dr A. Majid Katme's comments regarding the causes of vitamin D deficiency (Letters, 16 June), during the 1980s I encountered health workers from three different Middle Eastern countries, all of whom were concerned at what they regarded as a very high incidence of pelvic deformity among young women received in their maternity units. Because of those deformities many were unable to give birth naturally, leading to distressing incidents for all concerned and straining precious hospital resources.

All those I spoke to believed this to be the result of vitamin D deficiency, which they attributed to the covering of girls from early adolescence. The degree of covering might vary between countries, and between rural and urban situations, but it was becoming increasingly common to see total covering, including the wearing of black gloves and socks.

It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that a sudden limiting of exposure to sunlight following a comparatively sun-filled childhood, and unaccompanied by any dietary compensation, could have serious effects on a body undergoing the major changes of adolescence.

The circumstances of the nuns Dr Katme refers to, being fully formed adults not intending to bear children, would not seem to involve the same risks.

Yours faithfully,

M. R. SWINBANK

Surbiton, Surrey

16 June

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