In Your Face: Piercing the Veil of Ignorance About Niqab-Wearing Women
Natasha Bakht, "In Your Face: Piercing the Veil of Ignorance About Niqab-Wearing Women" (2015) 24(3) Social and Legal Studies 419.
23 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 6, 2016
This article examines three judicial decisions in three different jurisdictions involving niqab-wearing women in courtrooms. Particular emphasis is paid to the Canadian Supreme Court case of R v NS in which a sexual assault complainant wanted to wear her niqab while testifying. The uniquely challenging context of sexual assault, which has garnered much feminist attention and reform internationally, is considered. It is argued that serious consideration must be given to the multiple rights of Muslim women by reassessing the traditional use of demeanor evidence. Some judges in these cases attempt to be inclusive of niqab-wearing women in accordance with policies of multiculturalism, yet they do not go far enough in protecting Muslim women’s rights. Other judges refuse to accommodate the niqab entirely. This troubling analysis parallels attempts made to exclude niqab-wearing women from public spaces in Canada and permits dubious objections that certain requests for accommodation have gone too far.
Keywords: Burqa, Canada, Charter of Quebec Values, demeanor, multiculturalism, niqab, religion, secularism, sexual assault, veil
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