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No on 94

May 4, 2010

Image via nonbill94.wordpress.com

As I mentioned last week, the province of Quebec is preparing to vote on Bill 94, which would prohibit anyone from working a government job or receiving services at a government institution (think: post offices, housing authorities, motor vehicles registration, etc. etc. etc.) while having their faces covered.  While this wording is ostensibly gender-, religion- and ethnicity-neutral, it is clearly aimed at Muslim women who wear the niqab, a veil that covers the face from below eye level–a fact that is attested to by its supporters, who suggest that this targeting is in fact benevolent and liberatory.

I encourage you to get involved in the fight against the passage of Bill 94–even if you aren’t Canadian or Quebecois–because, as many others have rightly pointed out, this Bill is an attempt to control the bodies of marginalized women in the name of freeing them from oppression.  As the No Bill 94 Coalition puts it,

If Premier Charest’s government is truly committed to gender equality it should foster a safe and inclusive society that respects a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Standing up for women’s rights is admirable. “Rescuing” women is paternalistic and insulting. Further marginalizing Muslim women who wear niqab and denying them access to social services, economic opportunities and civic participation is unacceptable.

Forcing a woman to reveal part of her body is no different from forcing her to be covered. Both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties have expressed support for Bill 94, which raises the very real possibility that similar legislation will be proposed across Canada. We demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately, as it has no place in a democratic state that values autonomy, liberty and justice.

The Coalition is still seeking support, so please consider stopping by their website and adding your name to the No on 94 petition–and doing whatever else you can  between now and May 18th.

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