France Drafts a Bill to fine Burqa-wearing Women

Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of the parliamentary majority in France, revealed a new bill Thursday that would fine women who wear a burqa in public 750 Euros.

Jean-Francois Cope…told Le Figaro newspaper’s weekly magazine that men who force their wives to wear the burqa or niqab could face an even heavier fine.

"We can measure the modernity of a society by the way it treats and respects women," he said.

Ok…I get that Cope is trying to enact legislation that will ultimately penalize the degradation of women. But part of respecting women is recognizing that they have the capability of making their own decisions, regardless of what those decisions may be. How can someone not see that something they want to do to help women will ultimately punish them anyway? Is he really that dense?

It’s a tricky situation, a very tricky one, because (to be grossly stereotypical) I don’t think it would be uncommon for muslim men to force their wives to wear a burqa. BUT it is also equally common for muslim women to choose to wear a burqa as a traditional part of their religion. Legislating the punishment of religious freedom of expression in the form of something as harmless as the choice to wear or not wear a certain type of clothing is unbelievably draconian, and I really don’t think this type of legislation would solve any problems.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you rationalize a woman’s freedom to religious expression with her right to not be oppressed by that same expression of religion?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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