Thursday, September 10, 2009

Relief from Oppression or Violation of Freedom?

It appears the French are literally playing fashion police, again. There is already a ban in French schools of Muslim headscarves, Jewish kippahs, and Christian crosses (no word on whether teachers can drive Saturn or Mercury cars).

I have teetered back and forth on how I feel about this issue. The fact that a Muslim women’s group supports the ban does not sway me; people of different levels of religiosity try to oppress each other all the time, and it’s not right to play into their games.

Of course there are women who oppose the wearing of full body burqas; I bet most do. However, there are undoubtedly women who would freely choose to wear them. Even if one woman wanted to wear a burqa but was restricted by her government based solely on the possibility – even the certainty – that someone would be victimized… I don’t know. It’s hard to weigh.

Of course, what will banning burqas even do? Does that really change how a woman is treated? Are there not a multitude of ways in which her husband and the community will beat her down? Should her government, which has failed to protect her in these more important matters, be butting into her life in a completely useless way?

I want to say that people should be responsible and wear them if they wish. I want to say that men shouldn’t force their wives to wear them. I want to believe that would be enough. I want to believe they aren’t hiding bruises from being beaten. Yet, I have trouble believing things; I need proof.

I have always viewed the family as something that can victimize you. I have a good family, and nearly everyone I have ever known has had nothing but good things to say about their family. However, the saddest stories I ever hear are always about trouble with family. There’s usually no recourse, no higher authority to appeal. Instead, the relationship is strained, or they are completely cut off, optionless (which is where government support is most needed, but sorely lacking).

Sometimes the government needs to “butt in” to stop bad things from happening. Are clothes worth all the fuss? Apparently to the French, they are.

1 comment:

  1. I would think that, eventually, in a western country like France, societal peer pressure would win out and compel women to wear burqas. Unless everyone else is doing it, it looks quite ridiculous. Who wants to stand out (and probably be made serious fun of). Can you imagine a high school in France? Some lessons need to be taught outside the family.


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