Panel to discuss controversy of veiled court appearances

Should a female Muslim witness be allowed to wear a niqab – a veil that covers the face – while testifying before a court? The Supreme Court of Canada is considering such a case.

In “Legislating what women can wear,” a panel will discuss the case, R. v. N.S., in room 203, Toldo Health Education Centre, on Wednesday, March 28, at 5:30 p.m.

N.S., who wears niqab, accused her cousin and uncle of sexually abusing her as a child.  The defendants argue that if she is allowed to testify with her face covered, their lawyers will be unable to properly cross-examine. She has refused to remove her veil.

Wednesday’s panellists include:

  • Natasha Bakht, associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa, who will argue that N.S.’s right to wear niqab in the courtroom is a matter of religious freedom and gender equality.
  • Anne Forrest, director of women’s studies at the University of Windsor, who believes that N.S., like all women, should have the right to wear what she wishes without being judged for her choices.
  • Arij Elmi, clinical social worker, who will speak about her personal experiences wearing the hijab and what it means to her as a Canadian woman.

The discussion is free and open to the public.

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