Veil debate is a side show, real debate is about how women are perceived in society
London UK, 17th September 2013 – Over the last few days, the Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne has called for a national debate on banning the niqab (veil) in public places. Previously, Tory MP Philip Hollobone introduced his ‘ban the niqab’ bill in parliament and Sarah Wollaston MP has weighed in with a piece in the Telegraph titled “Veil debate should be a wake-up call for feminism” – as if this is the most important issue facing Britain.
Most of their arguments are a rehash of the mantra ‘Islam shouldn’t tell you what to do, secular liberal politicians should’. What is really needed is a debate on the perception of women in society and the real causes of women’s oppression in the 21st Century – as opposed to this current side show regarding the veil of a few women.
Shohana Khan, Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented, “In her Telegraph comment, MP Sarah Wollaston talks about Muslim women being forced to wear the niqab, claiming veiled women are repressed and claims those opposing her views on this are talking ‘nonsense’. There is more to the other side than ‘nonsense’.”
“There is no campaign group of closet ex-veil Muslims, no Facebook page trying to raise awareness of an epidemic of coercive veiling. It is quite simple – scores of young veil wearing Muslim women, like the ones who had the ban overturned due to the pressure they put on the Birmingham College, wear it out of their own accord. Yet some now want to criminalise or exclude them from society in order to ‘liberate’ them.”
“It is strange that this discussion is not had about straightened hair, makeup or the length of the school skirt across secondary schools in the UK today, where 13-year-olds are adopting the ‘beauty ideal’ because they feel they have to. That is if we really want to talk about coercion in how girls dress.”
“Sarah Wollaston’s concern about the need for a wake-up call for women is not at all incorrect but what is needed is a wake-up call about the real coercive idea in society, which is robbing women of being valued for their mind and their abilities, robbing them of their self-esteem and self-worth, robbing them of real choice about what they want to be; is more than needed. This idea is the corrosive beauty image perpetuated through the media, entertainment, beauty industries that has been proved as plaguing the lives of young women today. Although how you look is perceived to be a choice a woman makes, the very specific image of beauty plastered across magazines, billboards and TV today has built a standard that women young and old, all must aspire to and are measured against.”