France’s Burqa Ban – Is It Right?

Yesterday morning Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, voiced her opinion on France’s burqa ban. Introduced in April 2011 this ban on anyone wearing the niqab or burqa in public has been a controversial move; some view this ban as supporting women’s rights and others vehemently argue that it’s a violation of these same rights.

The differing opinions on this subject became all the more obvious to me yesterday morning whilst Shami spoke. Although she personally does not find the idea of a woman covering the entirety of her body to be favourable, Shami emphasised that by criminalising this dress the French Government is infringing on a woman’s right to choose what she wears and when she wears it. Shami went as far to say that to this action is an example of xenophobia masquerading as feminism.

At this point I tweeted the following from the @southbankcentre account, which has over 40,000 followers:

‘Shami Chakrabarti talks honestly about banning of the burqa in France and states that this is xenophobia masquerading as feminism #WOW2012

In response to this tweet we were sent the following, providing the other side of the argument:

tanktv: @southbankcentre well it is & it is not, it’s more complicated than that. 4 historical reasons French hate exhibition of religious status

JosephyneT: @southbankcentre 100% disagree with that The burqa is an anti-woman, anti-human, utterly nihilistic & violent statement Don’t derail issues!

At first I didn’t know how to respond to these comments oh behalf of the Southbank Centre…then I had what I can only call an epiphany…this kind of discussion is what WOW is all about!

So I’m writing this blog because we want to hear more, more of your thoughts and opinions.

Tell us what you think…is the burqa ban a violation of human rights or a victory for equality?

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One thought on “France’s Burqa Ban – Is It Right?

  1. I agree with Shami on this.Banning the Burqa does not help or free women in any way. As I see it there are two types of women who wear it – those who choose to wear it and those who are forced to wear it. For those who choose it, why should we stop them? I am, of course, completely aware that any ‘choice’ is made in the context of cultural or religious views which they have been probably raised with, but are we really saying they’re not smart enough to think about those issues and decide for themselves? And having come to a decision, let them act on it. It’s not up to the government to tell them they’re wrong.

    For those who are forced or coerced into wearing it, banning it still doesn’t help. If a woman is under threat of violence, or threat of being ostracised or exiled from her community or family then a ban is not going to free that woman. A man who beats a woman for wearing the wrong clothes is not going to suddenly stop because the government bans it. All that’s going to happen is that the woman will not be allowed out. Instead of being imprisoned in her clothes she’s imprisoned in her home.

    I hate burqa’s as much as the next feminist. I strongly dislike what they represent, in terms of men not being able to control their own actions so women having to be covered up to prevent them doing something they shouldn’t, but we don’t free women by banning them. France does have a strong secular history but they don’t ban religious symbols from being worn in public, so why ban this?

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