Why calls for a ban on the wearing of the burqa help the racists

, by LINKS

The following presentation was delivered to a packed meeting in inner-city Sydney on November 24, 2010. Pip Hinman was one of two local residents to organise the "town hall" meeting in response to community concern at far-right Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile’s bill to "ban face coverings" and a Newtown shop keeper’s "Say no to the burqa" mural. The meeting heard from a Muslim student activist, a trade union leader, a Christian preacher, who all opposed the ban call. It also heard from those supporting a ban. A resolution opposing a ban was passed with a two-thirds majority. Click HERE to read more on the meeting and the discussion. See also "Australia — burqa ban debate: If I can’t wear a burqa it’s not my revolution?".

I do not support women being forced to wear the burqa. I see it as one manifestation of the myriad of ways women are oppressed in this patriarchal society.

I accept that some women choose to wear burqas, niqabs, hijabs and other head coverings, and some do not. For the latter, societal, cultural and religious pressures don’t give her a choice. (I should add that the same pressures to wear ridiculous items of clothing, or not wear much at all, apply to all women in this society.)

Having said that, I want to make it clear that I do not support a ban on the wearing of a burqa. Banning the wearing of a burqa would simply mean that the person who wears it – voluntarily or otherwise – is criminalised. It would not, as some female supporters of the ban argue, help women extricate themselves from patriarchal control over their lives. Read more