Women should not be short-changed on their human rights for fear of angering a group of people who prefer to regard them as inferior to men and who wish to severely limit their range of action in society and keep them in a subservient “speak only when spoken to” position.
It is the job of any government in a democracy to ensure that human rights are respected and recognised by all citizens. This needs to be prioritised above any other consideration.
Our faces are an inalienable part of our identity as human beings. It’s hard to think of anything that characterises an individual as much as his or her face.
Facial expression is fundamentally important for our communication, as is demonstrated by the fact that babies as young as four months old can recognise emotion in faces and need face-to-face communication to develop normally.
To render women faceless is to deprive them of their identity, their individuality and their ability to communicate fully with the world around them.
I believe the burka and the niqab represent a continuous slap in the face of the women who are bullied and conditioned to wearing them.
They also represent a slap in the face of any attempt to protect and promote a just and fair society in which all citizens are respected and treated equally.
Few things upset me more than seeing a woman reduced by her burka to an anonymous object – the ghost of a human trapped inside, like a butterfly in a jar.
We cannot regulate what people wear in their homes and places of worship, but in the public space that we all share we must insist that every individual is recognised as a human being.
To render women faceless is to deprive them of their humanity.