Friday, April 30, 2010

Is This a Woman Or a Man?

An abaya

Belgium has banned use of the burqa, pictured next. The BBC calls it the "first move of its kind in Europe."

Amnesty International has reacted; they say it's a "dangerous precedent." Human rights groups say wearing a burqa is "an expression" of identity and beliefs.

This is an extremely controversial topic, and I disagree even with my sixteen year old daughter, who believes in self-expression and is tolerant of these coverings and thinks it is none of my business. It's my turn to react.

To me, these coverings are dangerous pieces of clothing in many ways.

1) The many layers of cloth can get caught in anything moving, such as vehicles, revolving doors, elevators and escalators, and there is a continual nuisance factor.

2) It is very similar to a cloak of invisibility and affords extreme privacy where none is expected, necessary or welcome. Many people can't readily identify someone wearing a full-body covering without years of practice and it can be a security risk in many situations, such as schools and public spaces. It is like a pair of sunglasses that obscures a person, but this object of clothing covers the entire body, and it isn't an efficient coverup from the point of view of the weather.

3) Most importantly, it is associated with countries where the freedoms women can expect to enjoy, and have taken years of hard work to achieve, are ignored.

Liberal Muslims and women's rights groups are advocating for the compulsory enforcement of the Burqa to be stopped so [women] are given the choice to decide if they want to wear the Burqa or not. (

Turkey and Tunisia prohibit the wearing of hijab [Quran's admonition to women to dress modestly] in government buildings, schools and universities. But Saudi Arabia and Iran and warlords in southern Afghanistan "enforce the dress code strictly with severe punishments through the religious police."

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