J.K. Rowling Reveals How the Burkini Ban in France Affects All Women

August 25th 2016

Tricia Tongco

The burkini, the full-body swimsuit which was recently banned in some French towns, has been in the spotlight this summer.

This week, a photo of armed police officers forcing a woman to remove her burkini in Nice, France went viral. This happened shortly after former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview, "“Wearing a burkini is a political act, it's militant, a provocation."

People on social media have called out the hypocrisy of the ban, but one of the best responses to Sarkozy's statement came from author J.K. Rowling:

As Rowling points out, labeling a burkini "a provocation" unjustly places blame on women's shoulders and scrutiny of their bodies, which is something that women of all religious backgrounds have experienced.

In the case of women who wear burkas, they are also punished with taking on a financial burden. Over the past five years, France has made the act of wearing a full-face veil in public spaces illegal, resulting in high fines for those who choose to wear it on the street. In all, 15 French towns have imposed local bans on burkinis, according to the Guardian.

In 2009, when the movement to ban full coverings in France was gaining traction, Sarkozy said in a speech:

"The problem of the burka is not a religious problem, it's a problem of liberty and women's dignity. It's not a religious symbol, but a sign of subservience and debasement. I want to say solemnly, the burka is not welcome in France. In our country, we can't accept women prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. That's not our idea of freedom."

More recently, Laurence Rossignol, the Socialist women’s minister, said that the purpose of the burkini is to “hide women’s bodies in order better to control them”.

This notion that the burka, as well as the burkini, is a form of oppressing women and the subsequent ban on the covering for that reason is in itself a form of control and oppression. As Amina Darwish, University of Cincinnatti alumna and member of UC’s Muslim Student Association told The News Record recently:

“I think anytime we tell women what to wear it intrudes on women’s freedom,” said Darwish. “It’s oppressive to tell women what to wear and equally as oppressive to tell them what not to wear.”

[h/t Mic]