French Women Can Wear Burkinis At The Beach Again And The World's Celebrating

by Alexandra Svokos

France just overturned a local ban on burkinis, which are swimsuits that cover a woman's full body and hair.

About a dozen towns in France created laws to ban the burkini in response to fears about terrorism. (And, you know, in response to sexism, Islamophobia and xenophobia.)

One town's local ban was overturned by France's top administrative court on Friday. The case was brought to court by human rights groups.

This week, armed French police forced a woman wearing a burkini on a beach in Nice to remove items of her clothing because of the ban.

Photos of this spread internationally across the internet, sparking outrage.

Much of the outrage over the burkini ban arose from particular ironies the French had in policing women's clothing.

No matter what, a woman's body is under observation. She will, therefore, be criticized and told her body is somehow shameful, no matter whether it's completely covered up or bare.

La sauvage jaune illustrated this perfectly:

The woman on the Nice beach reportedly received a ticket saying she was not wearing "an outfit respecting good morals and secularism," according to The Guardian.

This is particularly laughable, given women are also told they're not wearing "an outfit respecting good morals" when they wear small bikinis.

Critics of the Muslim faith like to say the religion polices women, and forces them to wear certain types of clothing, but an armed policeman coming up to women and making them take off their clothes also polices women and forces them to wear certain clothing.

The burkini ban was also pretty silly in terms of enforcement. Men and women wear full-body wetsuits to the beach. Should they be made to take off their clothes, too?

And, of course, the bans were seen as Islamophobic. People of many religions keep themselves covered up, including at the beach. Catholic nuns wear habits to the beach, for example.

Also, regardless of religion, many women choose to keep themselves covered up while at the beach for health reasons, body image reasons or just because they just feel like it.

But for some weird reason, only Islamic women were targeted with this ban.

Under the burkini ban, Islamic women who wear hijabs would not be able to go to the beach, or they would face breaking the law.

Aheda Zanetti invented the burkini in 2004 for her niece, a hijabi who wanted to play netball. Zanetti wrote for The Guardian she created it in order "to give women freedom, not to take it away."

She wrote,

I think they have misunderstood a garment that is so positive – it symbolises leisure and happiness and fun and fitness and health and now they are demanding women get off the beach and back in hijabi to their kitchens? This has given women freedom, and they want to take that freedom away? So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians?

The court only overturned one town's ban on Friday. While it's supposed to set precedent, other towns are already saying they will not get rid of their own bans, according to the AP.

But for the moment, this ruling has been cheered by many people as a victory for human rights and women's freedom.

Way to go, France. — Marianne (@marianneereads) August 26, 2016

Citations: Associated Press, CNN, The Guardian, The Guardian