Ban the Burka.

January 23, 2010

I am saying here and now,  if they ban the bhurka, I am going to buy one, and I will fucking wear it till it wears out. I may customise it.

Horrible item of clothing. Its very existence is abhorrent to me. The need to have an item of clothing that conceals everything. What does that say? But that is my opinion, and I have met several women who wear it, and feel empowered by it. Which kind of makes my ‘opinion’ irrelevant.

White, middle aged men, talking about how much empathy they feel with the oppressed women of Islam, decrying the burka as a symbol of everything that is wrong with Islams attitude to woman. In their response have come up with an idea that in one swoop, removes the right of those women to freedom of religious expression through clothing, places autonomy over a womans body to the state, and apparently clarifies just how much of my flesh someone in the general public is expected to see before I am allowed to take part in society.

Here is a message, you don’t get to offer up control of women’s bodies  to make a political point. Women’s bodies are not political battlegrounds. Since when did control over what I choose to wear become a pawn in political game, to be won or lost by white men I have never even met. Whats next?  ‘Slutty’ clothes demean and disempower women, so we will ban those? Heels hurt their feet, lets ban those?

Who precisely gets punished for the wearing of the said garment? The woman you say is forced to wear it? Or the man who ‘forces’ her? Apparently in law, a man is assumed to have legal responsibility for what I wear, unless I can prove otherwise? My capacity to choose needs to be limited for my own protection? Protection from what precisely?

There are millions of women who have been, and are in abusive controlling relationships.  Are we going to ban every single item used in that abuse? I know a woman who was forced to wear boden clothes, so she wouldn’t look slutty. Are we banning Boden?

Whats next? Tackle domestic violence by making it a crime to be punched?

You might want to look up the meaning of the word liberation. You don’t liberate women by telling them what to wear. If liberating women is your game, I could point to about a dozen laws which need to be changed  or strenghtened. Changes which could improve choices for women across the UK, immediately, and without removing their basic democratic rights. I cannot fathom how turning the control over what a woman wears, into a power struggle between her husband and the state, while criminalising her for being abused  even fits the loosest definition of the word liberation.

But then, this idea is not being discussed as a way to attack MY democratic rights is it? We are not liberating me? Its just them oppressed  muslim wimmins. They are not like us are they? Muslim= terrorist-right?  Oh wait sorry- muslim woman equals battered brainless chattel.  Those smart intelligent women appearing on Newsnight to defend their right to wear what they choose, are clearly lying. As are the women I know who wear the veil, niqab, and burka, while operating as solicitors, social workers, and teachers.

Funnily enough most women I know who have felt pressure to wear the veil, niqab, and burka, haven’t been pressured by their families, but by the need to assert their faith in the face of blatant islamophobia from govt, press, and public. Getting through a day in burka, is  hard enough, and not because of the restricted visibility, but because of the spitting in the street, andabuse that it brings. Hardly the best getaway garment in the current climate.

Who knew, all you needed to do to get support for an idea that sets us back as a society for hundreds of years, and which removes basic rights for everyone, and introduces basic gender inequality to  statute books, was the example of a few brown people being a bit different. We can’t have that, can we? Legislation covers everyone, not just the few  womenwho dress in a way you find threatening.



  1. I seem to remember seeing in the school GCSE league tables a couple of years back, that the 3 worst performing schools in the country were Muslim girls schools.

    This raises a rather awkward dilemma: Which principal do we cling to most strongly? Multiculturalism, or our western perception of sexual equality?

    I guess the Burkha debate (to some extent) falls into the same category. As it happens, I don’t think you can legislate against clothes. 😉

    • I don’t see how there is a debate. This is a law being proposed dictating what women are allowed to wear. It is a law passed on women, and I don’t see this as a debate about multiculturalism. Although I think legislating against one single item of clothing, only worn by one religious group, hardly the way to heal the rift between our govt and the muslim community in Britain.
      This is not about religious rules not fitting in with british society- causing harm. This is about what women choose to wear. And its a british law we are discussing, not sharia, or any other religion.

      I don’t particularly like the bhurka(obv mine will be purdy!), I dont as I have said here, like what it represents, but we have had religious freedom in this country, for a long long time, and I don’t see who benefits, for these ‘poor oppressed women’- to be made political table tennis- with authority over who should decide who to wear, bouncing between their husband, or the state?

      I personally feel that there should be a big fat line between matters of state and religion, I don’t believe in religion in education, I find the perpetuation of power and morally bankrupt positions maintainvby certain churches, through aid provision=especially those with a pro-life agenda, abstinence agenda, or an anti-contraception agenda-sickening.

      I would quite like, in the words of Marcus Brigstock, my fucking planet back before they tear it apart in their fight over whose imaginary friend is best.

      I seriously have become really intolerant of all issues where peoples religious belief affects those outside it. I don’t see how an item of clothing worn by one woman, can affect my life, in any way. Its her choice what she wears, if it intimidates people or perturbs people- so be it, and in words of clever woman on newsnight= british fashion is often underpinned by what others find offensive. If this piece of clothing is being legislated, I want a better reason than ‘ooh look how the muslims treat their women’. Especially in a country which does so much to perpetuate the oppression of female population.

      THis would be a debate about multiculturalism, if someone was doing something which caused harm to people. I fail to see what wearing a bhurka is doing. Its a bit like that swiss minaret story. 3 fucking minarets stuck on mosques, in the entire history of the country- the law wasn’t about minarets= its about perpetuating fear, hatred, and a war on terror, about to be used to justify a lot of spending.

      The idea of banning the bhurka unenforcable- who are they going to prosecute? How? They know it won’t work, but we are in the middle of a lot of grandstanding, an upcoming election,. and a drastic need to extend budgets for Pakistan. So all of a sudden the terror agenda is back, and the islamophobia- and with it, the Bhurka. They don’t seem to be arguing in same way for control over mens bodies. Seems to me like fear mongering, with a big fat focus on women, the govt says it is so concerned about, that it is passing a blatantly racist, and sexist.

      You can’t tackle muslims objectifying, and demonising the female form, by having the state further dictating what is appropriate to wear. This is not a multicultural issue- British Legal principles of religious freedom, laws about sex discrimination, race discrimination fairly well enshrined- there are laws I could suggest which alleviate oppression of women. I could give you a list of about a dozen policies which would immediately free many women from oppression. Telling them what to wear- not on that list.

      • It all hinges on whether you believe that all Muslim women wear the Burkha against their will, and whether we truly believe that it is genuinely harmful to sexual equality.

        In the past, we legislated to prevent children from working, but it would be hard to argue that this was using children as a political football! Sometimes, you legislate aginst somebody doing something becuase you believe that it will protect them?

        However, the whole legislative idea falls down because the decision to use the burkha or not HAS to be made by the Muslim immunity themselves, not the government.

        I suppose what I’m saying is that I agree that government should legislate on this, but I DON’T agree that any legislation would be an attack on women, rather, an attack on a section the Muslim community regardless if gender!

      • But it doesn’t matter if some women are forced to wear it. The same way the way that other domestic abuse victims are controlled, by husbands telling them what to wear, financially controlling them, using existing laws to maintain that control. I have never seen domestic abuse tackled, by banning the item that is used to control- rather than tackling the abuser.

        The fact is, there ARE women who choose to wear it, for whatever reason. I have met them. They are appearing on television daily. And removing that choice from them, doesn’t liberate them. If the control of women is the issue, then tackle the means by which women are controlled, change laws, improve them. As soon as the bhurka is banned, it becomes a symbol of oppression by the state, as well as by some of the partners of women who wear it.
        If a woman is being forced to wear the bhurka, how is criminalising her helping?

        THe issue is not about anyone being forced. The issue is about a clearly visible symbol of Islam, and the objectification of womens bodies to score political points, is not new.

        And you may not see it as a gender issue- but I do. Very very much. THere will be legislation about what I am allowed to wear, which places a distinction between me as a woman, and you as a man, and says that distinction gives the state the right to tell me what to wear, and which gives a man responsibility for my choice in clothing. It is a traditionally female garment, and the political point scoring that is taking place, objectifies, and politicises, womens bodys, in exactly the same way as the bhurka has. I am sorry- but as a woman, this is very much a gender issue, and the fact that it isn’t intended that way- mens bodies are not routinely politicised and used in this way.
        We legislate control over peoples bodies in very exceptional circumstances- if they are a harm to themselves, others, if they have committed some crimes- this does not fall in there. And the idea that women need to be controlled by the state, to protect them from controlling partners is a fallacy. As is the idea that the only women that wear the bhurka, are forced to.

    • Bloody predictive text has stripped my post of it’s meaning! I DON’T agree that the gov’t should legislate on this!

      Our government is increasingly legislating to tell us what it thinks is good for us. This is just another example of that kind of thinking.

      • Lol! Ignore me, am hungover.

  2. Absolutely agree with you. I find it extraordinary that there is even a debate about banning an item of clothing in a supposedly free and tolerant society. It is the oddest argument to say that to give women who wear burkas freedom you are going to take away their right to wear what they want.

    I think as women we should stand up and be counted and if this ever gets a day of serious debate in parliament we should all wear burkas on that day.

    Even if there are some/many, even if it was the majority not wearing it out of choice, banning the burka would do absolutely nothing to help those women. The women who are seriously oppressed are more likely to be kept virtual prisoners in their own homes if it happens.

    A strange way to ‘help’ them if you ask me.

    As for the schools, that is a completely different argument. I think everyone has the right to believe what they want, but I also think that religion has no place in education other than on Religious Education classes where you find out and discuss all faiths. That would help any truly oppressed women more than banning an item of clothing.

    • I agree, religion has absolutely no place in education. Faith is a belief based on no evidence, education establishments should not be the place to teach things based on no evidence.
      I am honestly not joking, if a law is ever considered seriously, to dictate what women can wear, or that limits ability to express faith through clothes, I will be buying said item. Am fairly intolerant of religion, but I do believe that peoples right to religious expression should be protected, unless it impinges on other people, and there is no way that an item of clothing can do anything to anyone else.

      • If they ban burkas in winter, I am getting one of these-http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=38524388&ref=fp_feat_3

      • 🙂 Sounds good to me. I am thinking, wear that under the burka, in case you are forced to take the burka off, just to emphasise how ridiculous the law would be.

      • We could all be looking at Figleaves.com or Annesummers.com= make a true spectacle if they are removed!haha

  3. Dear Deeply Flawed, I picked up your excellent diatribe on the truly gopping facebook group ‘BAN THE BURKA’ from which I understand you have been banned for rather amusingly outwitting the administrators.

    I don’t know about you, but I participate in groups like that from an inflated sense of righteousness. I know how futile it is to try to explain to the skinheads why it simply isn’t done to shout ‘deportation’ at anyone you don’t like, and that anyway, they’d have to be deported to England because that’s where they’re from. I know their brains switch off as soon as they detect a lack of blood-curdling race-hate, but I persevere, if only to demonstrate that it is possible.

    For my boldness in speaking out I have already been targeted by some right-wing nutter. A photo of me with a request for my identity was posted on the same group yesterday. The identity of the person researching me remains shrouded in mystery, which is so ironic that I despair.

    What is particularly laughable is that I joined the facebook group to agree with the motion, and that’s why I’m writing to you. I feel very strongly that the burka ought to be banned. I completely understand your outrage at the notion that a man ought to decide what you as a woman may or may not wear, but I feel that in your outrage you’ve overlooked the much more sinister issue here.

    Most people calling for the banning of the burka are most certainly motivated by xenophobia. The level of intolerance in the UK is growing palpably, and seemingly quite suddenly. Our nationally low level of excellence in academia coupled with the romanticisation of sharia law and the looming ogre of ‘islamo-fascism’ popularised by our gutter-press have stirred the great ignorant masses into a frenzy of hatred. People are unemployed and insolvent and angry, the scapegoat is naturally muslims. It is no longer racist to be anti-diversity. It is no longer acceptable to question the validity of military service, “If you don’t want to stand behind our troops…feel free to stand before them” and we are a reasonably short way, in the minds of the fearful, from needing to know if people are with us or against us. People are stupid, angry and afraid. If this state of affairs is not managed well, we may see a rise in hate crime and vigilantism. I predict the next national tragedy will be perpetuated by the skinheads.

    The burka represents different things to different people. To the skinheads it represents the alien and unacccessable, to the Christians it represents the nonsensical belief in the wrong prophet, to the liberals it represents the unfortunate side of a diverse society. To you, it apparently represents your freedom as a woman.

    I have always been an atheist, and was raised by parents nonchalent to religion, but I am aware that I have cousins, aunts and grandmothers even who are devout muslims. I have never visited them in their land, but if i would, i would simply not be permitted to look on them. As a man, it would be innappropriate for me to see their hair or for some to see them at all, because if I have a lustful thought, that would be their responsibility for being immodest.

    I hardly need to explain why that is offensive to me, but to echo your sentiment. Why should the theocratic legislation of another country place me in a gender stereotype? I am a man and so I am bound to rape? I can’t control myself? I can’t be trusted to look at a woman in the same way a dog can’t be trusted in the kitchen? preposterous. I hold the view that perpetuating these controls forces people to fulfil their societal roles. The man in Islamic states are justified in their chauvinism because it is legislated that they be so. The women willingly wear their veils and concentrate on expressing themselves through elaborate fabrics and displays of wealth because it is the accepted way. It is dysfunctional, and yet promoted in the name of decency.

    I’ll say again, I totally support your stance that nobody ought to tell you how to dress, but I hope you would concede that it sets dangerous precedents for gender-specific behaviour that we in the UK have surely moved past in the fight for gender equality. Not only does the Burka represent a step backwards but with the inevitable growth of Islam as a philosophy permitting the covering of women in the name of their freedom is a deliberate, psychotic step backwards down the staircase we’ve been climbing since the sixties.

    I realise I’m going on a bit here. I’ll skip past the primal human need to see each others faces and the hundreds of pieces of information we can log and recognise contained in that area, all of which provide satisfaction for the curious animal brain and reduce malevolent tension and go straight for the kicker. The reason that I would vote tomorrow for any moderate politician (no, not UKIP) who would bit the bullet and vanquish the veil.

    As an atheist i feel that the religious indoctrination of children is not only improper, but immoral and tantamount to child abuse, albeit from a parent’s innocent position of blind faith it isn’t spiteful, but ignorance is no excuse. I seek to see all prayer and of theistic reinforcement to be removed categorically from education. With luck I may see it in my lifetime, but what goes on in the home is, in most cases, beyond the reach of law.

    The idea that children in our free society would be covered by pious parents who think they’re doing the right thing- even of children covering themselves in an effort to please their peers is an absolutely unforgivable mistreatment, doubtless to stunt the emotional growth of any young person.

    I would forego your freedom to choose your attire to protect the rights of children not to be hidden from society under a veil, taught that they are too precious to be viewed and too fragile to leave the house alone. In all but deed the property of their fathers to be traded however it is seen to fit.

    I am in all other views an incredibly wet liberal, and having read a quantity of your blog I must profess a profound admiration for your opinion. I must assert, despite all that, that you are quite, quite wrong. It isn’t a gender issue, it’s a child welfare issue.

    Alright it’s lots of things, but the cruelty to children trumps them all.

    It’s difficult to make my case without going on at length, for which I apologise. It’s particularly difficult because for the majority of campaigners the issue of banning the burka is simply a race issue, or a culture thing. That’s really sad, because I’d love to see it banned, but I can’t get behind those people. Those fuckwits. I’ll just have to try and convince them one at a time.

    many thanks

    Nazim Kourgli

    • THanks for posting. First of all, I have to say- it was a bit childish of me to go on that group- when it clearly was just a group for racists to concentrate, and pretend they were ‘campaigning for something’, and it said more about the fact that I had not much to do that day= than any importance that the people in that group had. Half of them were barely literate, and the idea that they can be won over by logical argument, when most of them barely know the english language, and their motivation is racism-is probably a tad optimistic. Unless you are reciting Daily Mail headlines verbatim, you stand no chance. I take the fact that it was easier to ban me, than actually provide a coherent argument, as a compliment.

      Please don’t take my objection to the idea of banning the burka, as some kind of tacit approval of the item. I would be quite happy, if such an item of clothing had never existed.
      I even agree, that religious indoctrination of children is an appalling thing. I am, as I have said before, actually fairly intolerant of religion, thinking that actually if you tried, you couldn’t quantify the harm that christianity and Islam have done to this planet- and I firmly believe that church and state should be seperate.

      BUt I don’t agree that it should be banned. My argument still stands. I actually think that if you ban a religious item of clothing, then you add significance to it, and as we saw after 9/11 the incidence of women adopting the burka, increased- as women sought to affirm their faith, which was perceived to be under attack.

      As someone who has worked with child abuse, for most of my adult career, I have to say, I respectfully disagree, that banning the burka protects children. Children are not abused by pieces of cloth. Children are abused by their parents, and making a piece of cloth into a symbol for both sides of the argument, does not tackle the causes of that control and abuse, and as as social worker, it would make it very difficult to properly work with a family, and to assess whether abuse is taking place- if you could not move past the law relating to one item. Children are abused in a variety of ways- we do not ban, every item that is used. We make behaviour which would cause significant harm to a child, illegal, and this allows local authorities the flexibility to make assessments which take into account everything. The Childrens Act 1989, is a finely crafted piece of legislation, and is more than adequate for purpose, without removing the basic right of religious freedom, from our legal system- to bring in a law, which does not actually tackle child abuse.

      Thanks for reading the blog anyway. I don’t really expect people to agree with everything I say- but that is the point of opinion- its open to change, and it can be wrong, and I frequently, am. I hope you continue to read, and thanks for commenting!

      • thanks for your response- I see your point. We banned the beating of children but we couldn’t ban belts.

        All the same- and as you are someone who has worked with abused children, do you think there is anything we can do legally to prevent the isolation of muslim girls? Doesn’t tolerating veils give license to that backward ideology?

        I can’t help but agree with you, if we ban it then it’ll come back and bite us in the bum later- but I honestly don’t see how we can live in a society that at once champions gender equality and allows women of certain faiths to be suppressed socially, in some cases from birth onwards.

        We have the human rights of UK citizens to consider…

        anyways, i’m subscribed. keep up the good work.

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