Women’s rights have come a long way from the dark old days in this country. Women fought hard for rights that many men at the same time just took for granted. People like Edith New and Emily Wilding Davidson gave up a lot in their struggles for equal suffrage (Emily Wilding Davidson gave with her life – caught on newsreel) and even then it took many more years pefore equal suffrage, equal pay and equality within the public’s eye was given. But it came, and that set Britain and some other Western nations apart from others. That’s one of the things that truly put the great in Great Britain.
But there is something that has been bothering me, and a lot of other people in western countries in particular. That is the veil – the full face covering worn by some Muslim women. Call it what you will, but I prefer to call it the symbol of the treatment of women as second class citizens rearing its ugly heads again. I find it offensive, because of the feeble arguments used to justify it and because of what it really symbolises – the second class nature of women to some people.
Some argued that it was an expression of religion. Now, I make no qualms about not being religious. Believe in whatever imaginary sky bully or bullies that you like – but don’t try and force those beliefs on me. The veil is not in the Koran – I’ve looked. It appears to have its origins elsewhere. So it cannot be justified in religion. And anyway, I do not think religion should ever be an excuse for an opt out for common decency and abiding with the laws of the land and respect for our neighbours (don’t get me started about the bigots in the House of Lords trying to perpetuate discrimination against LGBT people). It appears to come from a Nomadic origin where women were property, and the veil was an extension of this, allowing a man to hide his ‘property’ and keep it all for himself. In a civilised country, this is totally indefensible.
A person with respect for those around them would not walk about in a balaclava, or a motorcycle helmet when without the accompanying motorcycle. It is rude, and signifies that a person has something to hide – there becomes an air of dishonesty about them, and in turn that can be interpreted as the potential for malintent. If I walk down the street in a balaclava, or go into a bank I would likely be arrested. To act in such a way shows utter contempt for the society around us. In the same way the full veil is showing contempt for the people around. Why do we tolerate it? At last France has spoken out and banned this offensive symbol of public oppression of women.
It is long overdue for being banned in public here too. I get fed up of the cries of “racist” whenever such things surface in public. It is not racist, and the people who think they score brownie points for denouncing others at the drop of a hat are idiots deserving only of contempt. Look the word up in the dictionary – it is an unjustified bias. The issue of the veil is fully justified as an issue to be discussed.
Not all Muslim women wear it. Indeed, it is a minority who are highly visible only because of the very visible and offensive nature of this garment worn in public. Most Muslim people are the same as anyone else. Many Muslims also find the veil offensive for the same reasons that people like me do. The sooner this is consigned to the same cupboard that balaclavas got tossed into, the better.
Equal rights for women were hard fought. We should not be letting them slide away again because we are frightened of being wrongly branded for daring to say the truth.