Protecting the Space to Be Unveiled: Why France's Full Veil Ban Does Not Violate the European Convention on Human Rights
59 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2012
Date Written: May 2012
In 2010, the French Senate and National Assembly approved a statute that, though facially neutral, was intended to ban full face veils worn by Muslim women in France, specifically the burqa and niqab. The French public, including French people of Muslim heritage, largely supported the law, but global commentators allege the statute constitutes an impermissible violation of personal freedoms and is racist, paternalistic, and the product of political opportunism.
Suspicion of efforts to control what women can and cannot wear is well-founded, especially in light of ongoing efforts to control women’s bodies and punish deviance from societal norms. Regulation of veiling, however, may be justified in some circumstances given the implications of the practice for women who do not wish to veil. This paper argues that given the specific circumstances in France, the interests of women who wish to veil are outweighed by the interests of women who lack a meaningful choice due to community pressure, family coercion, or threats of violence, as well as those of women who do not veil.
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