Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This does not help

In fact, it's downright oppressive:
A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils.

The committee's near 200-page report has proposed a ban in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport.

It also recommends that anyone showing visible signs of "radical religious practice" should be refused residence cards and citizenship.
This is allegedly in the service of gender equality, but in reality it's simple xenophobia on the part of the French non-Muslim majority.

Don't get me wrong. The social dictate that women must cover their entire bodies and faces, lest a glimpse of their earlobes inflame uncontrollable male lust, is absurd, oppressive, and insulting to women and men both. But the same is true of the social dictate that women must wear make-up or high heels to be presentable, and nobody for a moment entertains the idea that banning their use in public would further gender equality.

If women are being coerced by family members to wear the veil, this ban is simply further limiting the ability of these women to enjoy any independent public existence. Worse, it could be an excuse for those same family members to place even more severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.

If women are choosing to wear the veil because they personally subscribe to the belief that their bodies must not be exposed, such a ban is tantamount to punishing women for observing her own conscientiously chosen form of religious dress. Absent clear danger to others (for example, if the clothing in question required knives to be carried), an individual's choice to observe their religious beliefs through their clothing is not a matter for state interference.

All kinds of people express all kinds of contempt for women. Some of them even get to write in national newspapers or be celebrated statesmen. If the veil is also often used to express contempt for women, the solution isn't to punish the very women on whom the main burden of that contempt falls.

This proposed ban doesn't promote gender equality. It really isn't about women's well-being at all. It's about using Muslim women as pawns to express hostility to Islam.

1 comment:

  1. Linked under,'Discrimination & Identity'. Thanks.


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