After France banned the burqa or any form of face covering in public places a few years ago, it went further to ban the ‘burkini’ – a conservative head-to-toe swimming costume designed for Muslim women – on its beaches this year. The latest move has triggered an angry backlash from women’s rights groups around the world, besides Muslim voices. While some opine that women should follow the ‘law of the land’ and dress as per their country’s codes, others insist such clothing is in any case a symbol of women’s repression and inherent sexism in society and should be done away with.
On the other hand, liberals have called out the European nation for being no better than radical Islamists in dictating what women should or should not wear. There is no denying that modesty and liberalism are terms that are truly subjective. A garment that is a symbol of oppression for a woman in Saudi Arabia is a statement of personal rights in Switzerland. In such a scenario, any argument is meaningless without context.
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