Very few will by now not have seen the disconcerting images from the beach in Nice, France. For those that haven’t, a quick Google search will instantly bring them up. What you will see is a group of armed men surround a woman and force her to remove her clothing! It is as simple as that.
Let that resonate for a while. A group of armed men forcing a single woman in a public place to remove her clothing! This is astoundingly disturbing on so many levels, but before going into that you might wonder what is a burkini for, and is a ban on it justified or is it oppressive?
The whole debate surrounding the burkini connects with the debate on the hijab. The hijab is basically a head scarf worn by a Muslim woman. There are different forms, and different names such as the niqab, or burqa etc. But the basis is that a Muslim woman covers her head and body using clothing.
Unfortunately, the hijab is seen as a symbol of oppression against Muslim women. Apart from this being utter nonsense considering that the majority of Muslim women choose to wear the hijab from their own free will, it can’t be ignored that some women are forced to wear the hijab.
The argument is that forcing women to wear the hijab restricts their freedom, is oppressive towards women, and infringes their human rights; all of which of course are repulsive in a democratic free society.
The image that is painted of a Muslim man who “forces” the hijab on a woman is one of cruelty, control, jealousy and abuse: basically a man who cannot accept the rights and freedom of a woman.
This is important to understand simply because it exposes and boldly highlights the outright hypocrisy and double-standards of those who now have a problem with the burkini.
In effect, what you have is the argument that the Hijab should be off because oppressive men want it on. However the burkini should be off because oppressive men want it off! The former is absolutely repulsive, but the latter is absolutely fine.
What Is a Burkini
The burkini is a form a swimwear for women who are not comfortable with wearing traditional bikinis because they do not wish to expose their bodies. The burkini covers large parts of the body, but is designed in such a way to allow a woman to take part in water activities without having to compromise on her modesty.
Women choose to wear the burkini to get involved with water sports, attend the beach, take part in other health and fitness activities: in short the burkini has given freedom to some that didn’t have it prior to its invention.
For these women, not showing their bodies is about dignity and self-respect. Whether you agree with this principle or not is irrelevant, if a woman feels that revealing her body is an assault on her dignity and self-respect then that should be respected.
Consequently, if a woman wants to freely choose to wear something that safeguards her dignity and self-respect then she has every right to do so. Violating that right is what should be banned, not the right itself.
Is a Burkini Ban Oppressive
Therefore, without doubt, the burkini ban is wholly oppressive and is in no way justified. Well, not in a democratically free and just society anyway. Nothing can amplify this more than the images from France.
How can anyone accept, allow or defend the actions of four armed men, surrounding a defenceless woman minding her own business, expressing her right to freedom and family life, and force her to strip?!
As for those that are using the ridiculously childish defence of: ‘well she should have obeyed the law’, remember that the ban on Jews in Nazi Germany was in accordance with the law. So yes, if you are using that inane excuse than you are akin to a Nazi!
The burkini ban isn’t just an Islamophobic issue, it’s much wider than that. It is a direct assault on feminism, freedom and human rights. It is about as clear an example of discrimination and prejudice as you are every likely to see.
It is exactly the worst kind of oppression and emasculation which is attributed to the stereotype demeaning Muslim man. It is exactly the type of bullying, harassment and victimisation which any reasonably moral person would and should oppose.
Yet here we are, in 2016, right in the middle of the ‘civilised and democratic west’ and not only are we seeing harassment, we’re seeing the active justification of harassment and oppression against women.
So how do we respond? Well, the only democratically way we know how: buy as many burkinis as possible, distribute as many burkinis as possible, and go out in as many burkinis as possible: ‘a show of solidarity’ as they say. Hence this post is flooded with banners on where to purchase burkinis; here’s another:
What are your views on the burkini in general, and what are your views on the episode in France? Have you come across or worn a burkini, if so what does it mean for you? Maybe you disagree with the contents of this article; whatever your thoughts and feelings we would love to hear from you so please do drop a comment.