I talked to the Refugee and his wife last night. She is a hijab wearer. He doesn’t think it’s necessary but doesn’t interfere with her decision which is in respect of her religion. They had read my Burqas on Buses post. They had some thoughts. Interesting enough, I thought, for a follow up post. Their thoughts paraphrased by me are as follows.
Burqas are silly and not worth discussing. Niqab obscures peripheral vision. Women wearing Niqab should not drive on the basis that they cannot see properly and would be a danger to themselves and others. Niqab wearing women are not suitable candidates for many jobs on the same basis. Niqab wearing women cannot expect to be included in New Zealand society if they choose to wear a garment that is designed to separate them from society. The Refugee thought it was cheeky of the Saudis to approach our government on the issue when in Saudi Arabia, New Zealand women almost certainly wouldn't be allowed on a bus and could be in trouble for wearing shorts in 40 degree heat. A woman can be flogged in Iran for failing to cover her hair in public, not merely rejected by a bus driver. Burqa and Niqab enable and enforce gender apartheid. New Zealand doesn’t practice gender apartheid. Niqab and burqa flout the letter of New Zealand law with regard to courtroom appearances, banks and other secure forums. And, they certainly flout the spirit of New Zealand’s human rights legislation. The Refugee's family know that New Zealand was the first country to adopt universal suffrage. I had told the children about Kate Sheppard when I was in Lebanon and given them a ten dollar note to keep. The Refugee's wife brought it up. "They should respect your heroine", she said. Fair enough, I replied.