Rise Up Australia Party will ban the face veil in public places. This does not mean the wedding veil or the religious head scarf, but the full face veil worn by a small number of Muslim women. It is the same face veil that has already been banned in France.
We will do this because it is a security risk and a symbol of segregation. It is a religious mandate that originated in another nation that negates the need for the wearer to assimilate into Australian culture. There are even differences in opinion among Muslim scholars as to whether the face veil is a fundamental requirement of Islam. Some have even claimed that it is a cultural tradition that has been given undue religious significance.
We believe that the face veil is more than a choice of clothing. The identity of the woman who wears it is suppressed– her face is not allowed to be shown in public. It inhibits social inclusion and enforces the idea that the woman who wears it should not be seen. This is a step backwards for freedom and it takes women’s rights back into the Middle Ages.
In cultures where women live under the harshness of Sharia law, they don’t enjoy equality. They are regarded as second-class citizens. These women are often forced to hide away by controlling, domineering men and not by their own choosing. (1)
The woman who wears the face veil is covered from head to toe in fabric, in some cases so she can only see out of a small slit or a woven mesh of fabric covering her eyes. Even when the temperature tops 35 degrees Celsius under the sweltering Australian sun, she is given no relief from this oppressive religious mandate.
So the face veil is more than a garment of clothing, it hides a woman away from the world and stops her from participating in society. It also stops her from being regarded as a visible and valuable member of our culture. She is treated differently to other Australian women because the face veil puts up social barriers and is culturally unfriendly.
With the growing occurrence of the face veil in Australia as the number of immigrants swell, this issue needs to be addressed before it becomes so ingrained in our culture that it cannot be changed.
The face veil not only represents social segregation, it also presents serious security risks. While others must remove their helmets when they enter a bank in Australia, nobody gets asked to remove their face veil for fear that the staff member who makes this reasonable request is accused of Islamophobia.
How is this fair? How is this socially inclusive? And how would we know whether it is a Muslim woman trying to do her everyday banking or a violent robber using a disguise?
Some unscrupulous people in the UK have used face veils to disguise their identities during a department store robbery so that witnesses could not tell police if they were men or women. The BBC reported in June this year that six men wielding axes and wearing burkas raided Selfridges Department Store in a smash-and-grab attack. (2)
In countries such as Afghanistan, terrorists have used this as a disguise to evade the authorities and to get dangerously close to security checkpoints. The Telegraph reported in June last year that four French soldiers were killed, and five wounded when a male suicide bomber dressed in a woman’s burka blew himself up in an attack initiated by the Taliban. (3)
A lack of limits placed on wearing face veils poses significant security risks at a time when violent crime and religious extremism is on the rise globally. If there are people who are misusing the face veil for their own purposes overseas, then the potential exists for it to occur in Australia.
Security concerns also present themselves in the context of female public toilets and change rooms. Women should know that they are secure when they go to the toilet and are not being watched by voyeuristic men.
Paedophiles could also use this disguise to get close to vulnerable young girls in a public toilet block? How can we ensure as a society that this will not happen unless we enshrine it in law?
It’s time to ban the face veil. Reduce the security risk and take away the symbol of exclusion and oppression. Let the face of Australia be one of freedom and equality for all women!
1. ‘Wear a headscarf or we will kill you’: How the ‘London Taliban’ is threatening women and trying to ban gays in bid to impose sharia law 18 April 2011 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1377780/London-Taliban-targeting-women-gays-bid-impose-sharia-law.html#ixzz2aJUdPMYu
2. Selfridges robbery: ‘Men in burkas’ in ‘smash and grab’ , 7 June 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22811466
3. Four French soldiers killed by burka-wearing bomber, 9 June 2012