Monday, January 17, 2005

Cultural (In)sensitivities

I have just spent a futile half hour trolling back through the posts and my archives to find an item I thought I had posted some while back before Christmas.

It was in passing and related to news items from Britain and the States concerning the right of Islamic women to wear burkha (or is it burqah?) in western society.

I should have, on reflection, left my thoughts on this but now is too late.

Today, the Court here in Auckland has ruled that two women due to give evidence must so do without their faces veiled.

In a measure of appeasement, the witnesses will be given privacy behind a screen that will shield them from the view of the Court except for the judge, the (female) Court staff, and the lawyers.

The women have agreed, the Islamic community leaders agree that it is a just solution, and even the defence lawyer is happy (as happy as a defence lawyer can be...).

Full story here.

Not difficult to do, now, was it?


TAotB said...

And what is your culturally sensitive solution to letting Muslim women have their gov't id photo taken with their veils on?

TAotB said...

BTW - I agree with you that this was an acceptable compromise in this situation. the one I posed, however, is a bit trickier. I am interested to see what the probligo will say. . . . .

The probligo said...

Fortunately, the decision is not mine to make.

However, let us take drivers licence as an example. NZ has photo-d/l. There are no "papers" that we are required to carry other than that and firearms license if you are carrying a weapon (it licenses the carrier not the weapon). If you are stopped in the street by Police and asked for ID the d/l is the first resort. If you do not drive, they ask for address and the name of another person living there. From that point the intelligence of the polisman takes over - and believe me they are pretty good at it...

For the drivers license example -

I would not issue the license - if the person applying for it insisted on wearing burqah. It would have nothing whatever to do with photos. It would be on the grounds that the drivers vision would be severely limited by the veil.

I suspect though that a woman whose beliefs were so strong would not be looking to drive - it would be "outside the brief" so to speak. She could not go anywhere without male company, and a male would not permit a woman to take precedence.

So the problem will probably not arise.

On the "national ID" bit - I would be objecting to "having to carry papers". Too much like Nazi Germany for my taste.