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Should burkas be banned in the UK? Show more Show less

Boris Johnson MP recently divided opinion - drawing condemnation from the Prime Minister and provoking a disciplinary investigation by his Conservative Party - for controversial remarks about Muslim women who wear burkas/burqas. Though he did not advocate a ban, his comments have reignited the debate following bans on the full-face-and-body coverings becoming law in countries including France, Belgium, and Denmark. This conversation looks at whether similar prohibitions should be introduced in the UK. It operates on the basis that women are making a free choice when wearing burkas, and are not forced to be doing so - something which all parties would reject.
Burkas are a tool of repression and a threat to national security.
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Burka wearing normalizes dominance of women

The custom is intentional and part of a cultural practice that subjugates and dominates females to an extreme degree.

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Context

Sheik Taj Aldin as-Hilali, a senior Islamic cleric once said the following as an argument for women covering themselves with a burka: "“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside. . . without cover, and the cats come to eat it. . . whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”[1]

The Argument

Viewing women in this way, as a piece of meat that must be covered or risks instant molestation by male predators, is highly sexist. Instead of making it a man's responsibility to not sexually assault a woman, some in the Islamic community would prefer to have women covered. As a result, the burka is nothing but a tool men use to repress women. It is a symbol of patriarchal Islam's desire to control women, stifle female sexuality and silence their voices.[2] The UK government opposes sexism in all forms and stands against measures deliberately designed to silence and repress women. Therefore, the UK government should ban the burka.

Counter arguments

The Burka is a Rejection of Female Objectification The burka is not a tool of the patriarchy. It empowers women and is a clear rejection of the objectification of women as sex objects. In many Western societies, women are under intense social pressure to look a certain way. They are scrutinised for their appearance, makeup and clothes in the street, in the office, and on social media. It is hypocritical for the same women who wear high heels, skimpy skirts and striking lipstick simply because the patriarchy wants them to look a certain way, to call a burka sexist and a tool of the patriarchy. These women are doing exactly what the patriarchy expects of them; turning themselves into a sexual object. [1] Bans Replace one Form of Repression With Another Even if we accept that the burka is inherently repressive and is little more than a symbol of the masculine desire to exert dominance over a women, banning the burka simply replaces one repressive mechanism with another. Muslim women may feel more housebound by the ban. They may not want to leave their home without a burka but face a fine if they wear one. This would have a far greater repressive effect on females than the clothing piece itself. True gender equality would allow women to wear what they want. If they want to wear a burka because it empowers them, they should be permitted to do so. Banning a female from wearing a burka is just as repressive as forcing a woman to wear a burka.

Premises

[P1] The burka represses women and reinforces the patriarchy. [P2] Therefore, it should be banned.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The burka empowers women. It doesn't repress them. [Rejecting P2] Banning the burka is in itself a repression of women. It is telling them exactly what they can and cannot wear. True freedom would be telling women they are free to wear what they want.

References

  1. https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4199/why-feminists-should-oppose-the-burqa
  2. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/becky-hopper/burqa-women-repression_b_6575618.html

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Friday, 3 May 2019 at 14:54 UTC