Study seeks to give voice to women wearing niqabWritten by Chelby Daigle
Women wearing the niqab (face veil) will have an opportunity to talk candidly about their experiences to opinion and policy makers, through a new study by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW).
The research, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, a government agency, will be carried out in consultation with Shahrzad Mojab, Professor at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
“The rationale for this project is that we are often asked about the niqab and it became a major issue in Quebec and during elections. It is obvious to us that rather than speaking on behalf (of women who wear niqabs) and perhaps making assumptions, that we should provide them with the opportunity to speak for themselves,” Alia Hogben, Executive Director of CCMW, says.
The purpose of the study is not to research the religious or faith arguments for or against the wearing of niqab, but rather to allow women who wear the niqab to speak for themselves about their life experiences with the goal of being able to convey accurate information about these women to media, academia, legal bodies, and health and social service providers.
In 2010, CCMW publicly spoke out against Quebec's Bill 94 and made a submission to the Quebec National Assembly's General Consultation advising against implementation of the proposed law. In its submission on Bill 94, CCMW said: “We are concerned that those women who want to wear the face covering will become further isolated and marginalized if they are refused services. Their active role as parents may also be restricted and this will harm their children. This does not bode well for integration and participation for women and their children.”
Fatima, who wears niqab and lives in Ottawa, welcomes the study by Prof. Mojab and has agreed to be interviewed for it. She is often disturbed by the inaccurate portrayal of women like herself in media.
“At least get the facts straight. The generalizations that are being made are disappointing and they are causing tensions to rise,” she says.
She has been interviewed in the past by the media but welcomes the opportunity that this study provides for her to talk about her life as a whole.
“Yes, I wear niqab, but I have a family, I am involved in my community. There is a lot more to who I am.”
CCMW has developed online questionnaires for the study, in French and in English, and invites women who wear niqab to complete them at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NSP2LBZ(English) and https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2JJ5XCV(French)
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