In Depth

Road safety campaign dropped after showing young girl in hijab

Transport for London was accused of 'sexualising' children with a headscarf traditionally worn only after puberty

A road safety campaign featuring a cartoon image of a girl in a headscarf has been dropped after accusations that the images sexualise children.

The Children's Traffic Club campaign, promoted by Transport for London, includes children's books distributed in nurseries as well as an interactive website.

A character called Razmi, aged four, is pictured in a hijab even though Muslim women traditionally wear them only from puberty onwards.

Gina Khan, an advocate of Islamic women's equality, told The Times: "You are sexualising a four-year-old girl. It is as simple as that. The reason a female is covered is so men don't look at her. How can you integrate in society if you have a four-year-old girl wearing a hijab?"

There were also complaints that the campaign was reinforcing stereotypes about Muslims in the UK.

Shaista Gohir, chair of Muslim Women's Network UK, told Sky News: "It is frustrating to see that every time a Muslim girl or woman needs to be represented, she has to be shown covering her head."

"Why reinforce stereotypes, especially when it comes to children? Most Muslim four-year-old girls do not wear the hijab - those who want to wear it usually do so at puberty with some only adopting it due to parental and peer pressure."

TfL launched the campaign in 2015 as a free safety education programme aimed at children aged three and four, as well as their parents. In total the campaign cost £2m.

A TfL spokesman said: "We apologise for any offence caused by this content and we will not use these designs in future. The Children's Traffic Club was developed to help reduce casualties on London's roads by educating pre-school children on basic road safety skills."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, chair of TfL, also apologised for the campaign.

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