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Panel to discuss gender and religious equity issues

Questions of balancing religious and legal rights are the focus of a panel discussion Friday, entitled “Legislating What Women Can Wear: The Niqab in the Courtroom.”

Three panelists will discuss a current case before the Supreme Court of Canada involving a Muslim sexual assault victim who refused to remove her full face veil during courtroom testimony.

The event, at 11:30 a.m. in Alumni Hall’s McPherson Lounge, is offered as part of the Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies program, a collaborative effort by the UWindsor women’s studies department and the Friends of Women’s Studies to bring high-profile women leaders to Windsor to engage in discourse regarding women’s issues.

Panelists Natasha Bakht, an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa; Anne Forrest, an associate professor and director of the women’s studies program; and Ayan Nur, a social work and women’s studies student, will discuss a victim’s right to religious freedom and gender equality.

Dr. Bakht’s research includes cultural and minority rights, specifically as they pertain to the intersections of religious freedom and women’s equality. She is editor of the essay collection Belonging and Banishment: Being Muslim in Canada.

Dr. Forrest’s research focuses on issues of sexuality, race and social justice, with a focus on collective bargaining, women and work, and women and unions.

Nur will discuss her personal story with regard to the importance of niqabs and other personal coverings.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided, though attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch. For more information on the discussion and upcoming Distinguished Visitor events, visit the event Web site.

-- by Chantelle Myers