TfL has temporarily withdrawn the Children’s Traffic Club London road safety campaign after complaints about a young Muslim girl wearing a hijab who features in the campaign resources.
One of the images in the Children’s Traffic Club (CTC) London resources shows a child called Razmi, who is around three or four years old, wearing the religious veil as she plays with her friends.
Several media including the Independent, The Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Standard, Sky News and Metro reported that the campaign has been pulled following accusations of ‘sexualising’ the character, because the hijab is usually only worn after a girl hits puberty.
However, TfL has told us it has temporarily blocked the online content in order to amend or remove any images that have caused offence. This imagery will also be amended or removed from all printed materials at the earliest opportunity.
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?"
Speaking to Sky News, Shaista Gohir, chair of Muslim Women’s Network UK, added: “It is frustrating to see that every time a Muslim girl or women 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.”
While the Children’s Traffic Club has been used in London since 2003, September 2015 saw the launch of CTC London, a bespoke resource for London, featuring characters designed to reflect ‘London’s diverse populations and locations’.
Funded by TfL, CTC London is provided free of charge to pre-school children and their parents and carers. The Club also promotes sustainable modes of transport such as walking, scooting and cycling.
Every child who joins the Club receives a welcome pack containing a printed storybook featuring a range of road safety and active travel themed stories; sticker sheets and a travel diary to complete travel related activities; and a ‘Magic Code’ for access to more online stories, games and song.
CTC London also includes a free app containing fun road safety and transport games to further help young Londoners to stay safe.
More than 630,000 pre-school children in London have experienced CTC since its introduction in 2003, and since the introduction of CTC London in 2015 more than 250,000 of London’s pre-school population have joined the Club.
TfL has stressed it is not permanently withdrawing CTC London, which remains an important part of its strategy to reduce the number of KSIs on London’s roads.