The burkini (burka +bikini) is a fully body swimsuit with an attached hijab which has given Muslim women around the world a lighter, fully waterproof option to go swimming in. It's just another swimsuit and yet certain French cities have decided to ban burkinis and fine Muslim women who are wearing them at the beach citing secularism. However, a lot of the actions taken during the ban show that this isn't about fairness or societal harmony with no religious symbols. The burkini ban isn't about preventing social strife due to differing religious views since it perpetuates Islamophobia by punishing women for trying to enjoy themselves at public beaches. And it certainly isn't about feminism, seeing that French law enforcement officials are depriving Muslim women of the right to choose what they want to wear and sometimes even forcing them to remove clothing. In light of previous incidents, here are the top 5 reasons why you should be upset about the French burkini bans.
1. Muslim women at the beach are essentially being harassed for swimming in the ocean, one of the main reasons why people go to the beach.
They are neither bothering anyone nor being oppressed by choosing to cover up at the beach. What is important here is a woman's right to choose. In terms of actual swimwear, it is no different than the wetsuits that surfers and swimmers wear paired with a swim cap that covers one's hair; it's a skintight suit meant for swimming, not a cause for security concerns. A woman who was wearing normal clothes and a hijab was even fined.
2. The ban is a combination of sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.
It punishes Muslim women specifically while also rejecting everything non-French. It oppresses them for being women and punishes them, essentially, for practicing a religion that certain people in the government consider dangerous.
3. French mayors are ignoring a Court ban on the burkini ban.
For a country that's supposed to represent liberté, égalité, and fraternité, certain French cities aren't upholding France's motto.
4. The ban has led to hate incidents on France's beaches.
The ban has actually catalyzed social strife. Xenophobic beachgoers have yelled insults and told women wearing burkinis to leave France. Basically the ban has allowed Islamophobic backlash to follow French Muslims to a new setting, the beach.
5. It has nothing to do with secularism.
Given the current climate in France, this governmental ban is fueled by fear and completely illogical. It does not empower women when you tell them what to wear and enforce it with fines and police intimidation. And in practice, it does not keep the peace.