Solicitors and legal advisers will now be able to wear the niqab, or full veil covering the face, in court.
New guidance has been issued after a legal adviser in an immigration case refused to remove her niqab when asked by the judge, reports the Independent.
Curiously, a senior judge in Pakistan has taken exactly the opposite approach, ordering female lawyers to remove their veils in court. (Although in this case it is because of worries that different lawyers are turning up for the same case, using the veil as a disguise).
And, although I general don’t agree with Jack Straw et al’s argument that Muslim women should be asked to take off veils if they cover their face, I think in this specific case Pakistan may have got it right, not the English court.
If I had to have recourse to a lawyer in court, I would want her to be able to use her full range of facial expressions to plead my case.
But the issue has prompted a lot of discussion on Feministing.com, in regards to the case in Pakistan. Vanessa asks:
When it comes down to the fact that a woman is being forced to remove the clothes that she (regardless of her religion) may simply feel safe in for the sake of “professionalism,” are the situations really all that disparate?