Just today media reported that a court in the French Mediterranean island of Corsica has upheld a burkini ban issued by a local mayor, despite the fact that a higher court recently ruled against the ban. The past couple of weeks have been rife with imagery positioning Western women in bikinis alongside Muslim women in burkinis, presenting what’s intended to be a vision of the liberated woman vs the oppressed woman. But surely there’s more to this conversation than women’s clothing? Surely it’s not as simple as bikini = freedom, burkini = oppression?
In this episode, I speak with Natasha Bakht about the burkini, veiling, and how banning burqas and burkinis impacts Muslim women more broadly. Later in the interview, we discuss the situation with Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian scholar whose work has centered around Western perceptions of the veil and hijab, as well as on women’s rights in Muslim societies. Homa has been detained in Iran’s Evin Prison since June.
Natasha is an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests are generally in the area of law, culture and minority rights and specifically in the intersecting area of religious freedom and women’s equality.