Friday, July 4, 2014
Trading One Human Right for Another
Freedom of religion, is one of the human rights that we learn about in elementary school that are granted to us in the Constitution. Every religion has different customs and guidelines tied to their belief. Within the Muslim religion they have a custom of veiling women. Some Muslims sects require their women to veil their hair and others to completely veil their face. These women should have the right to do as they please with their veiling in respect with their religious beliefs. France, along with many other countries, enacted laws banning face veiling. The French government’s argument was that it would bring equality to men and women, where in the government’s opinion women are made subservient to men by having to wear the face veil.
Placing a ban on all face veiling targets Muslim women. They are directly disrespecting the Muslim religion and violating their human right of religion. A Muslim French women said that it breached many of her human rights including religion and expression. She also said that it is discriminates based on gender, religion, and ethnic origins. The consequence of adhering their religious custom and veiling their face is to be subject to 150€ fine and/or take a “citizen course”. In effect, this is having to pay money to practice their religion. According to the French Observatory on Secularism, 594 women were fined and many had to pay the fine more than once. This ban forced women to their homes. Even though this ban was enacted to bring equality to society in as a whole, this ban does just the opposite. “France has a duty, under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to respect and protect freedom of religion, expression, and personal autonomy of all those on its territory.” Even so, the French government has passed a law that violates just that. France should lift the ban for those women that choose to wear a veil for religious purposes. A face covering ban could be justified as a criminal justice measure where the perpetrator’s identity cannot be hidden without drawing attention to themselves by the public. But the stated justification for this ban is trading the human right of religion with perceived human right of equality between men and women. Isn’t this trading one human right for another?