Quelle surprise: French ‘Burqa Ban’ makes life worse for niqab-wearing women.

In French law, it is now illegal to cover one’s face in public – a law which, by design, impacts upon Muslim women who choose to wear a niqab. Get caught wearing one, and you could find yourself hauled to a local police station, required to identify yourself, and (if referred to a local court) given a 150 Euro fine or required to take citizenship classes.

Since the law was introduced in April, niqab-wearing Muslim women have reported increased discrimination, such as being prevented from getting on buses or entering cinemas or cafes; and Islamophobic attacks, verbal and physical, have reportedly gone up.

A former law student and convert to Islam tries to go [swimming] when the beaches are quiet. The last time she went for a dip with her mother and 10-year-old daughter on a Sunday afternoon, a sunbather called the police. A group of officers arrived and hurried across the sand saying: “But Madame, what are you doing?” “I said: ‘I’m drying myself.’ They wrote in their notebooks, ‘Swimming in niqab.'” Stephanie, who prefers not to give her surname, was summoned by the local state prosecutor. She arrived at court and agreed to lift her veil so security guards could check her identity, but they refused to allow her access until an exasperated prosecutor buzzed her in himself.

It’s almost comical, were it not so appalling.

Here’s the kicker: the law’s in place, makes life worse for some women, seems to be divisive and fuelling discrimination – but no fines or penalties have *actually* been given yet. Why not? Because, argue lawyers, an imposed fine could be appealed, and an appeal could go right up to the European court of human rights, which may well rule the law in contravention of freedom of religion and other personal liberties. More here.

Bad ads

How fortunate we are, to no longer have adverts that boldly proclaim on ‘what wives are for‘, or that ‘men are better than women‘ (way to sell a sweater!).

And how advertising has changed in the last half century: recent controversy has focused on the GB women’s Olympic volleyball team, who feature in an advert which is premised upon taking photos of the pants (UK English sense) of the sportswomen (the barcodes take smartphone users to the website of a betting company). For more, see here.



LSE would appear to be paying someone who publishes articles saying “”Black women are … far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.”* And somehow such claims got past Psychology Today‘s editorial – although the article has now been removed.

Where to begin? With the racism? The assumption that there are uncontroversial standards of physical attractiveness? Ug.

* Caveat: I haven’t read the now removed article and can’t access his research papers. But its hard to imagine how that claim couldn’t be problematic.

Cuts and access to education

No, not the shameful plans for higher education (see here).
Rather, still shamefully, 1 in 5 councils have cut services for deaf children. This further restricts access to the kinds of support needed for deaf children to access and fully participate in education. Details here.

‘The Oxbridge Whitewash’

David Lammy entered a Freedom of Information request to get Oxford and Cambridge to reveal information about applications and admissions.

The results (reported here) are appaling: Oxford admitted one black Caribbean student last year. 21 (out of 44) Oxford colleges made no offers to black students last year.

Lammy suggests the problem is not simply a matter of black and ethnic minority students not applying. Rather, white students were more likely to be successful than black students at most colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. This seems to be particularly so for black women:

The starkest divide in Cambridge was at Newnham, an all-women’s college, where black applicants had a 13% success rate compared with 67% for white students.

A spokesperson suggests that the low acceptance rates may be explained by the fact that black students tend to apply for the most over-subscribed subjects.

Class representation is also poor, as the data gathered show:

that Oxford’s social profile is 89% upper- and middle-class, while 87.6% of the Cambridge student body is drawn from the top three socioeconomic groups. The average for British universities is 64.5%, according to the admissions body Ucas.

From what we know about solo status and stereotype threat, there’s reason to suppose that such low numbers may affect the experience of working class and black and ethnic minority students at these universities. And there’s clear anecdotal evidence of under-representation putting off prospective applicants:

Matthew Benjamin, 28, who studied geography at Jesus College, Oxford, said: “I was very aware that I was the only black student in my year at my college. I was never made to feel out of place, but it was certainly something I was conscious of. …

“On open days, some black kids would see me and say ‘you’re the only black person we’ve seen here – is it even worth us applying?'”

And this is all in face of a fees hike…
It is worth noting that, as far as I know, both Cambridge and Oxford operate a ‘Special Access Scheme’, aimed at recruiting excellent students from schools which do not have excellent grade averages. One might wonder how effective such schemes are, in light of these figures.