What women wear: a constantly fashionable debate
A few years back I blogged about a woman in Sudan who was at risk of being flogged for wearing trousers. The case of Mrs Lubna Hussein hit the global news headlines as many couldn’t believe that a woman could be flogged, fined or jailed for wearing loose-fitting green slacks.
Fast forward seven years to a different continent, and once again we see a woman being targeted for what she chooses to wear. Whichever way you look at it: this image is astonishing: a woman lying on a public beach surrounded by armed police and ordered to remove a piece of her clothing.
In what context is this ever permissible?
The absurdity of this image is compounded by the fact that it took place in a country that claims to promote freedom and equality.
Time after time, we hear that a woman’s dress is the subject of controversy and control. On my very first day at Amnesty I was astonished to hear my colleagues discussing the launch of a new opinion poll they’d commissioned which revealed how more than one in every four people thought a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing.
When I heard this, I asked my colleagues – which country are you referring to?
Expecting them to cite some far-flung country, I was astonished when they said “Here. The UK.”
It is woeful then how a decade later, women are still being attacked and persecuted for what they choose to wear.
We’ve said it before, and tragically years on, we still repeat this mantra: a woman has the right to wear pretty much whatever she wants.
And we should be allowed to do so without threat of violence or discrimination. Just as a nun wearing a habit on the beach in Nice should be entitled to sit freely without attack or arrest, so should a woman wearing a burkini.
There really isn’t any excuse for the image which outraged millions of us earlier this week. France should stand by its proclamation of liberty and freedom for all: whether it’s trousers, a burkini, a habit, a onesie – their choice. Their right.
The only indecent image which caused offence on that day, in my view, were the men with the guns.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.