Face veil ban ‘violates women’s rights’: Amnesty International Switzerland

Face veil ban ‘violates women’s rights’: Amnesty International Switzerland
The proposed ban on face veils in Switzerland is discriminatory and “violates women’s rights,” the head of women’s rights at Amnesty International’s Swiss section said. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2021

Face veil ban ‘violates women’s rights’: Amnesty International Switzerland

Face veil ban ‘violates women’s rights’: Amnesty International Switzerland
  • Dangerous policy that violates women’s rights, including to freedom of expression and religion: Huguenot
  • Supporters of the ban, including right-wing movements behind the idea, say it is needed to combat the oppression of women

LONDON: The proposed ban on face veils in Switzerland is discriminatory and “violates women’s rights,” the head of women’s rights at Amnesty International’s Swiss section said.
“The proposed face veil ban cannot in any way be viewed as measure for the liberation of women. Rather, it is a dangerous policy that violates women’s rights, including to freedom of expression and religion,” Cyrielle Huguenot said.
“This ban would have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa. If we really want to respect women’s rights, we should let women decide what they want to wear,” Huguenot added.
Switzerland will go to the polls on Sunday to vote on a long-laid proposal to ban face coverings, both the niqabs and burqas worn by some Muslim women in the country, as well as ski masks and bandannas used by protesters.
The vote comes at a time when most people around the world are wearing face masks to counter the spread of COVID-19.
Huguenot added that the proposed ban sanctions “women for their choice of clothing and in so doing undermines the freedoms Switzerland purports to uphold.” 
“If the intention of this is in any way to protect women’s rights, it fails abjectly,” she added.
“A ban of this type would be discriminatory. It also carries the risk of stigmatising women belonging to an already marginalized group, cementing stereotypes about people and increasing intolerance,” Huguenot said.
Supporters of the ban, including populist, right-wing movements behind the idea, say it is needed to combat the oppression of women and to uphold a basic principle that faces should be shown in a free society.