Canadian survey of women who wear the niqab reveals choice ‘may be a bit of a youth movement’

The vast majority of women surveyed who wear the niqab in Canada are not only willing to remove their veils to be identified, but feel it is part of their responsibility to do so, according to the most extensive research of its kind.

The niqab has become a polarizing issue in the federal election — with the Conservatives vowing to limit its use in certain circumstances — but interviews with niqabists themselves suggest some political assumptions about them are incorrect.

In fact many of the women interviewed for the study Women in Niqab, by Concordia religion and Islam professor Lynda Clarke, were “irritated” by the widely held belief that they were being forced to wear the veiled garment.

…. Clarke, whose 2013 research for the Canadian Council of Muslim Women was based on interviews and surveys of 81 niqab-wearing women in Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere, said she was surprised by some of the findings in what is the largest study of its kind in the western world.

The women interviewed were generally young and the vast majority had chosen to wear the niqab on their own, often despite the protests of family.

Clarke said she had a sense from the research that choosing to wear the niqab in Canada “may be a bit of a youth movement,” and “a lot of it is done in the spirit of defiance.” [National Post] Read more

Women in Niqab Speak: A Study of the Niqab in Canada

Very few pieces of faith based clothing in Canada have ignited as much impassioned debates as the Muslim practice of the niqab. Covering the woman’s body and hair and leaving only the eyes visible, the niqab has often been problematized as a symbol of Islamic extremism, women’s oppression and lastly the failure of Muslims to integrate. The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) is no stranger when it comes to addressing the very issues that affect Canadian Muslim communities, including debates concerning Muslim women and their choice of dress.

Committed to the equality, equity, empowerment and diversity of Muslim women and their voices, for more than 30 years the national organization has delivered community based projects and advocated on behalf of Muslim women and their families. CCMW has previously issued position papers about the niqab and also presented our statements to government bodies. This has resulted in the media, policy officials, community organizations and other inquiring minds asking the Council to weigh in on the debate. [Canadian Council of Muslim Women] Read more