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Showing posts from August, 2010

Gender-segregated Carriages?

The Guardian is reporting a plan to allow those of orthodox jewish faith in Jerusalem to travel in gender-segregated carriages:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/23/jerusalem-segregated-train-carriages

In some cases women are already required to travel in the rear of some designated buses, to meet the concerns of some Orthodox Jews. The report underlines the often tense relationship between gender equality and promoting respect for genuinely held religious values.

The Niqab and the role of a witness in court

According to the BBC website, an Australian judge has ordered a female witness in a fraud trial to remove her veil while testifying in court. The woman, who is Muslim, wears the full niqab which covers all of the face except the eyes, in preference to the hijab worn by many Muslim women:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11020700

The judge's concern is a legitimate one. A jury should be able to observe the facial expressions of a witness. Indeed, facial expressions often convey much more than the spoken word.

On the other hand, the Koran ordains modesty in dress:

"Tell the faithful women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their scarf to cover their bosom". Koran, 24:31

There are strong differences of opinion as to what this requires. Moderate muslims take the view that the niqab is not required, and that all the Koran stipulates is that a woman wear modest dress, covering h…