Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Quebec women speak: 'this is an injustice'

  • Print

Quebec's National Assembly last week introduced its controversial legislation to ban the wearing of religious symbols, including head dress and most jewelry, by public servants on the job. The following is a letter that 118 Quebec women of diverse religious beliefs, along with some atheists, sent to Premier Pauline Marois, opposing the bill.

Dear Premier Marois:

We, the undersigned, are feminists who belong to religious and non-religious communities. Some of us are pastors, priests and rabbis; others of us are Muslim women who wear hijabs or who do not; and some of us are women who consider ourselves atheists, agnostics, or secularists.

We recognize the difficult battles that women are fighting throughout the world to establish their rightful and equal place in human society. We are in sympathy with all women who have suffered because of the inequalities they have experienced in their churches, synagogues or mosques, and we are pleased to say that, as evidenced by the female clergy and lay leaders among us, we have come a long way.

We support a woman's right to make choices in her life, especially when it comes to the control of her body. We applaud the freedoms that have been won since the 1960s and we have no desire to go backwards. For these reasons, we cannot support the banning of individual religious expression as proposed in the Charter of Quebec Values (now known as the charter affirming the values of state secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing the framework for accommodation requests).

Since the beginning, the debate around the charter has clearly targeted Muslim women. We see this as an injustice. By legislating a woman's right to dress as her conscience dictates, you are taking away her fundamental right to control her own body. By forcing her to choose between her work and her faith, you are ensuring that she will be marginalized, not liberated. Furthermore, far from bringing equality to women, the ban privileges Muslim men over Muslim women and Sikh women over Sikh men, just to name two examples.

Given your argument that banning the hijab will liberate women who are dominated by men, shouldn't we outlaw miniskirts, breast implants and high heels as well? In our experience, changing the way a woman dresses is not the key to her freedom. Instead, as so many studies have shown, societies do better when women have equal rights to education, public expression and employment. Yet your ban would take these rights away from the very women you claim you seek to help. This would be a sad and unfortunate step backwards.

As women who come from a diversity of traditions, we know that there are still many battles to be fought to ensure that all women are safe from domestic violence and that they have access to all that a free society like Quebec has to offer. We also know that injustice, inequality and violence can be found across all cultures. These are the real issues that need to be addressed.

As women of Quebec, we have much to offer our society regardless of the way we dress. We urge you to withdraw your proposal to ban religious symbols within the public and semi-public sectors, and urgently ask you to meet with us to discuss the real plight of women here.

Sincerely,

Rev. Diane Rollert, Minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal

Shaheen Ashraf, Secretary, Montreal Chapter, Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow, Senior Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom

and 115 others

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2013 A13

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Tree remover has special connection to Grandma Elm

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google