20 August 2009

The Burqini...

The burqini as a fashion statement might not warrant much discussion, but it seems as a practical garment for swimming that allows Muslim women and girls to enjoy the wonders of water whether it be in a swimming pool or at the beach has become a bit of a flash point, at least in France.

The burqini is a head-to-toe swimsuit that apparently meets all the strict dress requirements for Muslim women to be seen in public. It was designed by an Australian, Aheda Zanetti, and would appear, at least to my unfashionable eye, to be a practical solution to the issue at hand.

However, it would seem that the French are somewhat more fashionable that I and have banned the burqini from being worn in French swimming pools. The reason, the suit is unhygienic, and therefore it is a public health issue. I am wondering exactly what hygiene issues are involved that would make the wearing of the burqini in a public pool any less hygienic than a naughty 10-year-old taking a pee in the pool.

Yet, it would seem that the rationale is that larger garments would conceivably carry more bacteria. This sounds pretty weak as an argument considering the last time I swam in a public pool it was like jumping into a bottle of chlorine. Then again, I am not a scientist with knowledge of the intricacies of burqini hygiene.

Interestingly, reports out of France say that the move as received widespread support from the French population and there has not been a significant backlash form French Muslims in response to the ban.

The Mayor of a regional Italian town, Varallo Sesia, has also banned the burqini from the local swimming pool as well. The reason is also related to hygiene matters. However, the mayor is also a member of a party that is staunchly anti-immigration and his comments might suggest that there is more at play than just hygiene.

The mayor is alleged to have said words to the effect that the sight of a masked woman at a swimming pool would scare young children, and imagine a western woman wearing a bikini in a Muslim nation as she would be at risk of decapitation, among other punishments. The idea being that the local mayor is only banning the wearing of the burqini and not arresting or punishing its wearers.

Are these valid arguments? Or, would the governments seeking to ban the wearing of the burqini be better served by continuing to trot out the hygiene excuse and ratchet that up with a few scientific studies?

Life in a multicultural world.


oigal said...

"imagine a western woman wearing a bikini in a Muslim nation as she would be at risk of decapitation, among other punishments"

Ah yes but Rob you know that tolerance tends to be a one way street with a lot of religions (ok all)

oigal said...
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oigal said...
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Rob Baiton said...


I was not really thinking about it in terms of tolerance, although that is a good point.

I was really wondering whether the idea was justification enough. The hygiene excuse is an interesting one and one that I would assume could be backed up with science.

If it can, then it does not really need to be a tolerance issue and there seems little need to characterize it as an issue of masked women scaring little children or what we are doing is not nearly as extreme if the roles were reversed.

I can see you have been multiple posting again :D

oigal said...

Seriously, I think its a bit weak (more than). I do have an issue with full face coverings in Western Societies for two reasons. Personally/cultural reasons I am uncomfortable if I cannot see the face of the person I am interacting with physically. Second Reason, if we accept full face covering for cerain group then we are providing a special exemption to a select group of people, I cannot board a plane wearing a mask, I cannot cover my face for my id (let alone the security implications)I cannot enter a bank with a helmet on.

However if someone wants to wear a an over sized t-shirt to the pool..its amusing but thats all.

So I think common sense is missing here.
Its reasonable to accomodate peoples personal desires only up until they impinge on others or imply special conditions not allowable to others

oigal said...

On a lighter note, I am very pleased you are taking on a "soft porn" approach to posting..Its like a 1950's playboy complete with a law review section :-)

Rob Baiton said...


I have not seen a 1950's Playboy so I cannot rightly say :D

If it is soft porn, then it has to be a very soft porn approach. Might be time for some viagra or cialis to get the porn rolling so to speak.

Thanks, though, I suppose for the compliment.

olsonsfoodemporium said...

Of course, the writer is completely fair.