This article made my blood boil and the debate it started made me even angrier. People who didn’t agree to the free for beginners and highly subsidised swimming lesson for more advanced swimmers for woman, particularly Muslim woman, were accused of racism. There is no racism. Firstly, it is sexism to close the pool to males because woman are using it. Secondly, whilst this article didn’t say, the online debate forums revealed the the people who are paying for these free and subsidised private swim classes are Auckland City Council and Water Safety New Zealand – so I’m paying through my taxes and rates.
My children used to have swimming lessons each Saturday morning for half and hour. It was $16 per half hour. I stopped them swimming when it became $18 per half hour for the lesson. We do the school holiday program instead as that is cheaper at $85 per child for an hour and a half 5 days a week. I have four children. Putting all my children into swimming classes would cost me 18×4 = $72 for a half hour session, I’m soon to have another child, so when I have 5 kids I would be paying $90 per half hour session for each of my kids to attend a half hour swim class. The school holiday program is only for school aged children and is an hour and a half each child, they do a preschool class from age three, this is only for half an hour. So for me to put my three school aged children through the school holiday swimming program it is going to cost me 85×3 = $255. I will have one preschooler that is old enough for the half hour classes and these are $50. So for a week of school holiday swimming I would be spending $305. My children’s swim classes are not private lessons. The pool is closed in the mornings of the school holidays for lessons, but each lesson is in a lane of the pool and everyone has their designated areas and they are all swimming together.
How these free lessons for woman came about was because of the low number of Muslim woman learning to swim. The reason for the low number of Muslim woman learning to swim is they could not be around men in swimwear and being around men in general at a swimming pool complex made them feel uneasy. So for this reason Water Safety NZ and Auckland City Council decided to use the hard working tax payers taxes and rates to pay for them to get free and private lessons.
To those who call anyone against this racism, no one is saying that Muslim woman can’t use the pool, that would be discrimination. All those of us who are against this policy are saying is, that if Muslim woman want to use the pool and learn how to swim without men being around, then they have to pay the cost of hiring the whole pool complex for private hire and for the instructor. Why should anyone else pay for them to have these private and free classes? The way I see it people like my family are being discriminated against because for us to learn how to swim it costs a lot of money, yet I’m expected to pay for their private lessons. This is wrong. I know the church youth group also go to the swim complex for youth group activities, again, they pay the entry fee and share the pool with other pool users – seems like they are also the ones being discriminated, if anyone, on religious grounds because they are paying and sharing the pool, not Muslims getting free and private lessons that the rest of us pay for.
It is also poor economics, you aren’t going to get the best return out of these free lessons. My kids are learning to swim as New Zealand is surrounded by water. We will be taking them to the beach. We will be taking them on bushwalks where there are creeks, lakes, rivers. They will be going on school trips around water, either boats, pools or camps where kids do water slides, canoeing, kayaking. Some of their friends could have pools. I need my kids to be confident around water because my kids are going to be around water a lot and maybe exposed to it when I am not around – school trips, at their friends houses, so I need them to be confident enough to get to the side and get out without drowning should they fall in the water or be taken by a rip when at the beach.
Teaching Muslim woman, who wear headscarfs and dresses from head to toe, how to swim is not going to have the same pay off because they are not going to go swimming in the sea and be taken by a rip because men are around so they can’t wear their swimming attire. If they fall out of a boat they are not going to be able to swim if they fall in as the first thing you are taught when you learn about water safety is that your clothes make you heavy and you will sink, so kick off your shoes and take off your jeans, with all the layers of material they have on they will be held down and they likely wouldn’t take it off even if their lives depended on it. They are also not going to be going into water on school camps, as they are adults, and won’t decide to jump fully clothed into a pool at a friends house – this is the kind of thing kids do without thinking through the consequences. There is really no reason for them to learn to swim, other than swimming is a good sport to be involved in, fun and good for social reasons – but why am I paying for their hobby when I have to pay a fortune for swim classes for my kid’s safety?
One commenter on the Facebook thread I read through stated that no one kicks up a fuss when pregnant woman have their own swim class, disabled swim class, children’s swim classes and when the pool is closed for a private function – therefore anyone against this must be racist. NO! All these groups pay for their events. Pregnancy classes are expensive, I looked at doing them because when you are the size of a house walking is hard enough, your body aches and the buoyancy of water is excellent for pregnant woman not just for the exercise but to relieve their achy joints and to meet other woman who they have things in common with. I decided not to do pregnancy classes as I couldn’t justify the expense and the family budget was tight. They also don’t close the whole pool complex and make it a woman only night for these pregnant ladies. Despite you feeling like a beached whale whilst pregnant and really hating the way your body looks (well not all woman feel this way, but I know A LOT who do) they have to share the pool with others, either using the designated learning pool or one of the lanes in the large public pool. Same goes for kids classes, expensive and not stopping anyone else from swimming, they just take up their own space. The disabled pay too. Sometimes it is covered through ACC but a lot of them pay full cost despite the difficulties they often face to earn an income because of their disability. As for private parties, this particular swimming school that
As for private parties, this particular swimming school that these ‘woman only’ sessions take place has a separate ‘learn to swim’ pool and I imagine they book that pool, not the whole complex. I have a nearer swim school to me where there is one pool and they do close it for parties, but my friend gave her child a birthday party at the pool and it costs a lot of money. It is more profitable for the pool, given the numbers they have come in during the paid session times, to shut the pool for a party. I don’t see how you can compare the pool being closed due to woman who do not want to be around men getting free or highly subsided lessons to the other groups of people who are paying top dollar for a lot less.
I can’t find statistics on drownings in New Zealand based on religion. I found this http://www.watersafety.org.nz/assets/PDFs/Media-Releases/MEDIA-New-Zealand-Drowning-Statistics-2015-Summary.pdf which shows drowning statistics by race, but this isn’t particularly helpful. It says that more Asians drowned than any other race but Asians aren’t all Muslim but some Asians are Muslim so it doesn’t support or debunk whether Muslim woman are a higher risk of drowning than other groups. The second highest rate of drowning by race is Muslim and it is rare for Maori to be Muslim. As for the Asians, from what I have read in the papers at the time of some of these drownings, often they are tourists. Tourists do not understand the risks at the beach. Some of them have never been near the sea before. Many of them don’t know what a rip is. Plus they come from countries where they are not taught to swim, whereas most schools in New Zealand and Australia teach swimming because water is such a part of our upbringing. I had a friend who moved to New Zealand from Russia and she paid for her own swimming lessons because she wanted to be able to enjoy the beach and wanted to embrace the New Zealand way of life. She had the right attitude. If people move here they need to pay if they want to learn to swim. Most New Zealanders don’t learn to swim properly just at school, even though swim classes are available it is more water confidence than swimming. The kids don’t get the skills from school lessons if they found themselves in water that was over their heads, they are very basic classes so most parent who can afford it pay for lessons, many others would like to but it is a luxary they can not afford.
In conclusion, swimming is expensive which sucks. But if you want to learn to swim you have to pay. If you want to make sure your kids are safe in water, you have to pay, or you can teach your kids yourselves at the beaches, lakes, rivers – however currently there is regular occurrence of sewage run off into these places as the council have failed to deal with the increased population and instead of fixing this disgusting issue, they are paying for newcomers to get swimming lessons – grrr. A lot of Muslims are very rich, particularly the ones who managed to get to move to New Zealand. They are perfectly capable of paying for lessons, whilst some may be poor same goes for every racial group there are some rich and some poor. Even if they do have to pay for the whole swimming complex to close down so they can have their privacy, that is an added expense because of lifesytle or religious beliefs they hold so they can pay to uphold them. No one else should be paying for them. They need to pay their own way. Sure it is going to be dearer if they need the whole complex to shut down because they feel insecure around men, but this is New Zealand, we treat men and woman equally, so unless men get a ‘man only night’, woman shouldn’t get a ‘woman only night’, and they sure as hell shouldn’t be getting free private lessons at the expense of the rest of us.