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U.N. Defends Right to Wear Burkini | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A woman in a burkini at a French beach. Reuters

Geneva-The United Nations on Tuesday strongly defended the right of women to wear the burkini swimwear and criticized decisions taken by some French cities and towns to ban it.

The U.N. rights office called on all local authorities in France that have banned burkinis to “repeal them immediately.”

“Dress codes such as the anti-burkini decrees disproportionately affect women and girls, undermining their autonomy by denying them the ability to make independent decisions about how to dress,” said the statement.

“Gender equality cannot be achieved by restricting individual freedoms including by policing what individual women choose to wear,” it said.

According to the statement, the ban “does not improve the security situation but rather fuel religious intolerance and the stigmatization of Muslims in France, especially women.”

“By stimulating polarization between communities, these clothing bans have only succeeded in increasing tensions and as a result may actually undermine the effort to fight and prevent violent extremism, which depends on cooperation and mutual respect between communities,” it said, describing the bans as “highly discriminatory.”

“In addition, as has been widely noted, the manner in which the anti-burkini decrees have been implemented in some French resorts has been humiliating and degrading.”

The Human Rights Office added that “according to international human rights standards, limitations on manifestations of religion or belief, including choice of clothing, are only permitted in very limited circumstances, including public safety, public order, and public health or morals.”