News Agencies – November 25, 2010
French women were called on to perform the “militant act” of wearing a skirt to protest violence against women. At least 135,000 women are taking part in the protest, according to its Facebook page, organised by rights group Neither Whores Nor Submissives (NPNS) as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“Wearing a skirt is a militant act, in daily life, at the workplace, in the street, at home, because today everywhere is a place of danger for women,” said Sihem Habchi, who heads the NPNS. NPNS mainly defends the rights of women in France’s occasionally tense suburbs, where “the skirt is definitely a symbol of resistance,” said Habchi. It can be difficult for young women to wear skirts in some suburbs because of male jibes and occasional attacks which make the garment a symbol of standing up for women’s rights, NPNS says.
Statistics show that in 2009, 654,000 Frenchwomen said they were victims of physical or sexual violence, a 15-percent increase since 2007, Habchi said.
Two Saudi clerics have declared Muslim women are exempt from wearing full veils in France, which is planning to ban them, but added they should avoid visiting it as tourists. The comments, by Islamic jurisprudence scholar Mohamed al-Nujaimi and author and cleric Ayed al-Garni, come two weeks after French lawmakers passed a bill under which women could be fined for appearing in public with the all-covering burqa or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed.
Muslim scholars are divided over the veil, disagreeing on whether and how much of a woman’s face should be covered. Saudi clerics widely recommend it. Every summer, tens of thousands of Saudi holidaymakers leave the kingdom and its searing heat to spend their vacation abroad, with many travelling to European countries.
This article features Muslim women’s perspectives on choosing to wear headscarves in France today.
Private clinics in France have been busy with a 30-minute procedure that can represent the illusion of virginity for women known as hymenoplasty. According to the International Herald Tribune, gynaecologists throughout Europe have reported that in recent years, more Muslim women are requesting virginity certificates before marriage. The service is widely advertised on the Internet; there are medical tourism packages, for instance, that offer less expensive alternatives in countries like Tunisia. With the recent controversy of an annulled marriage in Lille, talk of the procedure has exploded throughout Europe. A comedy film opening in Italy this week, Women’s Hearts, tells the story of a Moroccan-born woman who journeys to Casablanca for the operation. The French College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians opposes the hymen procedure on moral, cultural and health grounds. The group’s president Jacques Lansac claims, Attaching so much importance to the hymen is regression, submission to the intolerance of the past. In some cases, couples decide together for the woman to have the surgery. One French woman described that It doesn’t matter for my fianc_ that I am not a virgin, but it would pose a huge problem for his family.