A French parliamentary committee released a nearly 200 page report yesterday that recommends banning face veils in certain public spaces, including on public transportation and at schools, hospitals, and government offices. According to the New York Times, only 14 members of the 32 member committee voted, eight in favor of the report and six against.
According to the BBC, the report said that "the wearing of the full veil is a challenge to our republic. This is unacceptable. We must condemn this excess." As the commission delivered the report, National Assembly President Bernard Accoyer said, "The full veil represents in an extraordinary way everything that France spontaneously rejects...It's a symbol of the subjugation of women and the banner of extremist fundamentalism," according to Reuters. Those who oppose the ban criticize it as xenophobic. Jamel Debbouze, a French comedian with Moroccan ancestry, told a radio station that, "people who go down that path [of the ban] are racists."
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his opposition to the burqa, the head-to-toe garment worn by some Islamic women In a speech to a joint session of the French Parliament in June 2009. In this speech, he said "The burqa is not welcome in French territory...In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," reported the Wall Street Journal. This speech, the first presidential address to the legislature in over a century, urged the Parliament to examine the practice of Muslim women in France wearing the burqa. In 2004 the French Parliament passed a law banning students from wearing veils and other religious symbols in public schools.
It is estimated that only about 1,900 women in France wear the full veils that are the subject of the report.
Media Resources: BBC 1/26/10; New York Times 1/26/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/23/09
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .