Publication of the week: Professor Susan Edwards

1 December 2014

Edwards, S.,  “Proscribing unveiling – law: a chimera and an instrument in the political agenda”, in E. Brems (ed.), The Experiences of Face Veil Wearers in Europe and the Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 278-296. ISBN: 978-1-107-05830-9.

This volume publishes the findings of a number of scholars who have researched the experiences of women wearing the face veil (niqab) in European countries, and discussion of those findings by legal and social science scholars. It is the first attempt to analyse the use of the veil in diaspora Muslim communities. Professor Edwards’ chapter concentrates on how the face veil is represented in the West, arguing that this is influenced by orientalist ideology and that the use of gender equality arguments against the veil can be duplicitous: the people who speak against it most strongly often have no interest in other aspects of equality.

Professor Edwards discusses the various approaches which have been taken in different jurisdictions, and even within those jurisdictions, to the wearing of the face veil by witnesses and defendants, and to the broader issue of wearing it anywhere in public. She shows that the veil provides a conveniently visible symbol on which attention can be focused in a way which would not be acceptable for the clothing of non-Muslim women. The women who wear it express a variety of reasons for doing so, most of which have no connection with its being imposed on them, the usual justification for a general ban. She concludes that they “are contained and imprisoned within a Western narrative and fiction”.

Read more about the book on the CUP website.

Susan Edwards is a researcher and campaigner and a barrister (Door Tenant, 1 Grays Inn Square, London). She is an expert witness and member of the Expert Witness Institute.  She is Acting Dean of Law at Buckingham, and editor of the Denning Law Journal.