Switzerland’s referendum on burqas is an insult to women’s rights and dignity


Switzerland’s referendum on burqas is an insult to women’s rights and dignity

On March 7, Switzerland will hold a referendum to decide whether to ban full facial coverings such as burqas and niqabs. Polls show that more than 60 percent of Swiss voters favor the burqa ban. Although the Swiss cantons of St. Gallen and Ticino already have a ban on full face coverings following regional votes, the Swiss government has recommended voters reject the federal proposal, saying a nationwide constitutional ban would “undermine the sovereignty of the cantons, damage tourism and be unhelpful for certain groups of women.”

Those “certain groups of women” are Muslim women.

It is ironic that the vote will take place on the eve of International Women’s Day on March 8, which strives for a gender-equal world. Removing a Muslim woman’s right to wear a face veil is not equality.

Why should a Muslim woman who chooses to cover her face because of her faith not be allowed to do so? People of different faiths adhere to different dress codes, yet it is Muslim women who bear the brunt of this policing around the world.

Switzerland is far from the first country to propose laws limiting Muslim women’s choice of attire: France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia, Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Republic of the Congo, Chad, Gabon and Sri Lanka all have laws prohibiting the wearing of religious face coverings. These bans are called a “security measure,” even though women’s role throughout history in political violence is not linked to the clothing they wore.

Source: Washington Post

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