Concerns have been raised over the ban on the face-veil in Sri Lanka saying it risks stigmatizing Muslim women.
The amended emergency regulations came into force on 29 April 2019, in the wake of the Easter Sunday massacre that claimed the lives of more than 250 people in attacks on three churches and three hotels.
Since the attacks, Sri Lanka’s small Muslim community has been braced for a backlash while refugees from Muslim backgrounds or Muslim-majority countries have been attacked by hardline mobs.
Responding to Sri Lanka’s emergency regulations imposing a ban on clothing that conceals the face, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Dinushika Dissanayake, said that at a time when many Muslims in Sri Lanka fear a backlash, imposing a ban that effectively targets women wearing a face veil for religious reasons risks stigmatizing them.
“They will be forced out of public spaces to stay at home and will be unable to work, study or access basic services. The ban violates their rights to non-discrimination, freedom of expression and religion,” she said.
Dissanayake said that where there are legitimate security concerns, the authorities can carry out identity checks when objectively necessary.
“It is important that the state provides measures that comply with human rights. Women have a right to choose how they dress, whatever their beliefs,” she said.
Dissanayake said that forcing women to take off the face-veil is coercive and humiliating. (Colombo Gazette)