France's lower house of parliament approved a ban on Islamic-style burqa veils that cover the face today in a 335 to one vote. The ban, which still must be voted on by the Senate before it becomes law, is overwhelmingly popular in France and is reportedly backed by 82 percent of the population, according to CNN. The ban aims to promote French values of secular tradition and women's equality, which the burqa supposedly contradicts.
The ban comes in response to the difficulty France has had integrating recent generations of immigrants into French culture. As the country was plagued by weeks of rioting by immigrant youth in 2005, the government insists that assimilation is the only course for immigrants and minorities, according to the Associated Press.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced in April that he was going to introduce legislation that would ban the wearing of veils in public. The French Council of Ministers approved the bill a month later, according to CNN.
The French government said in a statement about veiling that, "Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place," reported CNN.
If passed, the legislation would call for $185 fine or citizenship classes for those caught wearing face-covering veils in public. A year of prison and a $38,000 fine will be placed on anyone convicted of forcing others to wear a veil, according to the Associated Press.
Amnesty International has denounced the ban. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's expert on discrimination in Europe said, "A complete ban on the covering of the face would violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or the niqab in public as an expression of their identity or beliefs," according to CNN.
If made law, it is possible that France's highest administrative body, the Council of State, could deem the ban unconstitutional. The council has stated that concerns for secularism, women's equity, public security, and human dignity are not legal justifications for challenging international human rights laws or the French constitution, according to the Associated Press.
In Belgium, full-coverage veils are currently prohibited in 20 out of 589 Belgian municipalities, similar to local restrictions in Italy and the Netherlands, according to Human Rights Watch. Spain has a related ban in progress, according to the Associated Press.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .