I thought I ought to draw attention to this article in the Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with the title "Who'd be female under Islamic Law?".
She says "I am the kind of Muslim woman who maddens reactionary Muslim men and their asinine female followers." and "Female oppression in Islamic countries is manifestly getting worse. Islam, as practiced by millions today, has lost its compassion and integrity and is entering one of the darkest of dark ages." She lists a series of unbearable stories of the unjust treatment of women in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
She concludes: "Disgracefully, there are always vocal Muslim women who seek to justify honour killings, forced marriages, inequality, polygamy and childhood betrothals. Why are large numbers of Muslim men so terrorised by the female body and spirit? Why do Muslim women encourage this savage paranoia? / I look out of my study at the common and see a wife fully burkaed on a sunny day. She sits still. Her children and husband run around, laughing, playing cricket. She sits still, dead, buried, a ghost. She is complicit in her own degradation, as are countless others. Their acquiescence in a free democracy is a crime against their sisters who have no such choices in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere."
This needs to be said by more influential Muslim women. Seeing women in burkas, head to toe in black, with their faces covered, and sometimes also the eyes, was the greatest shock I had when I moved to Leicester ten years ago. I wrote about it to the press, but as an English male I could have little influence. I've not seen this in Hastings yet, fortunately. It is the outward symbol of much more and much worse.