Originally posted by FMF
[b]The burqa: a normal expression of religiousness or a tool of female oppression?
This is a question that has to be answered by women who wear burqas. If they see it as a tool that is being used to oppress them, then they should take them off when away from their families, or they should leave their families while getting whatever support from the state ...[text shortened]... within the terms of reference I have set, and as long as it reaches the same conclusion as me.[/b]
I definitely agree. I think the state should offer protection to those who may find it hard to escape their situation by themselves, instead of forcing the issue. However, this question is borderline enough to make me question myself. Let me play a bit of devil's advocate to keep the ball rolling.
One of the problems of the burqa is that it excludes the woman from many activities, which range from schooling (after they start to wear it) to having a normal job. This severely limits the woman's ability to be independent enough to be able to sustain herself if she decides to fight it. I imagine that just leaving the house one day without a job, education or a place to live in, all while facing probably contempt and anger of her community. Even friends who are in similar positions may be afraid or unable to help.
In short, it's true that it can be a tool to perpetuate female oppression by putting them in a vicious cycle of dependence. Historically, there is the example of Turkey where Ataturk's much decision (banning of not just face-covering headscarves) can be said to have had a non-negligible impact on the role of women in Turkish society, particularly in places like Istanbul where the ban was truly enforced. There seems to be increased tension lately because of Erdogan's attempts to lift the ban and subsequent overturning by the supreme court, but the large manifestations that followed the initial decision to ban them show that there are many women who still feel the need for this type of state protection.