N.S., who wears niqab, accused her cousin and uncle of sexually abusing her
as a child. The defendants argue that if N.S. is allowed to testify with
her face covered, their lawyers will be unable to properly cross-examine.
N.S. was ordered to remove her niqab; she refused. The matter is now before
the Supreme Court of Canada. All are welcome. For more information about R.
v N.S., visit LEAF’s website at leaf.ca/cases/r-v-n-s-scc Panelists:
Natasha Bakht, Associate Professor of Law at UOttawa Anne Forrest, Director
of Women's Studies at UWindsor Arij Elmi, graduate student at UWindsor
Natasha Bakht Natasha Bakht will argue that N.S.’s right to wear niqab in
the courtroom is a matter of religious freedom and gender equality. She
believes that feminist reforms in the area of sexual assault must be extended
to niqab-wearing women so that they are treated with respect and equality in
courtroom settings. Natasha Bakht is an associate professor at the University
of Ottawa’s faculty of law. She was called to the bar of Ontario in 2003
and clerked with Madam Justice Louise Arbour at the Supreme Court of Canada.
She teaches in the areas of criminal law, family law and multiculturalism.
Her research interests are generally in the area of law, culture and minority
rights and specifically in the intersecting area of religious freedom and
women’s equality. Prof. Bakht’s arguments have been cited by the
appellant N.S. in her facta before the Superior Court, the Court of Appeal
for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada. Prof Bakht was an active
member of the Law Program Committee of the Women’s Legal Education and
Action Fund from 2005-2009. She currently sits on LEAF’s N.S.
subcommittee and has assisted in preparing the intervener facta for this
case. Anne Forrest Anne Forrest believes the decision in the R. v N.S. case
will be significant for all women. N.S., like all women, should have the
right to wear what she wishes without being judged for her choices. Anne
Forrest is an associate professor and Director of Women’s Studies at the
University of Windsor. Her teaching focuses on issues of sexuality, race
and social justice. Her research interestsare collective bargaining, women
and work, and women and unions. Arij Elmi Arij Elmi will discuss the personal
and religious significance of hijab, niqab and other religious dress for
herself and other devout Muslim women. Arij Elmi graduated with a BSW in
Social Work with minors in Psychology and Women's Studies in 2010 and an MSW
in Social Work in 2011.