Should girls be forced to wear a veil as school uniform?

October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Burkhas were back in the British press this week. Outraged pages in the more conservative broadsheets report on three British schools where girls wearing the veil whilst walking to school is compulsory. The niqab will be worn in these institutions travelling to and from school, for girls aged between 11 and 18.

Moderate Islamists have warned that this is likely to damage relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, and the chairman of the Muslim Education Trust of Oxford said it was setting a “dangerous precedent” and meant that the children were being brainwashed at a young and impressionable age.

The site of a woman clad from heard to toe in black is a disturbing site for those not familiar with it, and for younger teenagers to have to wear such a garb can hardly be comfortable or convenient. On the other hand, if it is their choice, and is genuinely not enforced, then the polarisation of women who follow this practice is equally abhorrent, and talk of banning the burka in countries such as the Netherlands  disgusts me.

It is difficult to measure to what extent the decision is made independently – in this case it is of course an enforced rule as it equates to school uniform. Most students resent uniform in some way or another, generally because it restricts their ability to express themselves and explore their individuality during their teenage years.

This uniform does the same but on a religious premise, seeking to make the female students hide their emerging sense of self under a gown which isolates and segregates them from non-Muslims of their own age. The lack of social interaction and the sharing of ideas and experiences is what makes this practice particularly sad.

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