POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY SHEEMA KHAN IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
Ms. Khan, there is to my mind only one made-in-Canada approach to this matter.
That is, let people do as they wish in their private lives and as they feel their religion directs them.
Anything else is state interference into private lives and religion, an abhorrent concept in which I am sorry to see France becoming involved.
I don’t like burkas, but I didn’t like nun’s heavy habits of only a few decades ago either. Some of them were godawful outfits, covering from head to toe and pinching the face in heavily starched material. I’m not too fond of the grotesquely ugly clothing strict Mennonite women wear too.
But it is all none of my business.
We had no complaints about those excesses. The complaints today reflect raw anti-Muslim prejudice, and we have no business accommodating that.
Over time, as people adjust to a new society, they or at least their children, will give up these ancient customs. It just takes time.
It was only a couple of generations ago that women from Eastern Europe, and actually many others, wore babushkas routinely. In the World War II period, it was stylish for women to wear veils on their hats. In Victorian times, women covered themselves in heavy dark clothing and wore hats with large heavy veils. All just common fashion, and all of it has disappeared.
If people out there are concerned about women’s rights, then look to the world’s many true horrors and do something about them.
Three million women a year undergo sexual mutilation in Africa. It is routine practice also in many parts of Africa for older men in a village to rape young girls.
In India, we have bride-burning and honor killing. We also have a ghastly tradition that marries off little girls to rich old men, so the family can get a little money. This horror is compounded by the fact that when the old man dies, the girl is left a widow, and there are terrible rules which apply to her for the rest of her miserable life, including never marrying again and even the clothes she must wear and the food she must eat. Tens of millions of widows in India live under this tyranny.
The world is full of genuine horrors and abuse, never mind what someone wears by custom.