Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 27, 2016
The burkini is an option, not oppression, say those opposed to ban
Recent attempts in France to ban the burkini have prompted protests and court challenges.
Some of those who’ve defended the body-concealing swimsuit say that while they wouldn’t wear one themselves and don’t necessarily agree with the religious associations it carries, they will defend women’s right to wear what they want.
On Friday, the top court in France overturned one town’s ban on the burkini, a ruling that is likely to set a precedent across the country.
The decision comes after several Muslim women were ordered to remove the body-covering swimwear on French beaches. Some burkini wearers were also issued fines.
Sonu Kilam is the co-founder and designer at East Essence, an online store that sells modern and traditional Islamic clothes. East Essence started to sell burkinis about six years ago, she said, after receiving requests from customers — specifically, Mormon customers — who were looking for modest active wear.
“[We] came across the burkini and thought, ‘Perfect, it will work for all our customers,'” Kilam told CBC News from Newark, Calif.
The company’s various burkini options represent about 15 per cent of its sales, she said, and it’s not only Muslim women ordering them.
Kilam recently got an email from a Canadian woman who wrote, “It’s hard for women like me who are 40 or older and don’t feel comfortable showing skin to find swimwear in Canada.”
Other burkini customers include women with skin conditions, Kilam said, and the company recently made a custom burkini for a plus-size woman who wanted something to wear for water aerobics.
There have been reports that burkini sales have increased since the controversy started, but Kilam said she hasn’t noticed any significant changes. (Source: CBC News)