There has been a lot of discussion recently about the wearing of the burqa by Islamic women, mainly in relation to the wearing of it in the chamber in Parliament House in terms of member safety. I’ve never been sure why this latter venue is an issue- surely security is enforced when you are screened going in? Leaving it until the wearers get into the chamber seemed to me to be a bit late anyway. Incidentally the burqa refers to the full body coverage with a veil over the face, not the garment which leaves the face open to view.
Some Australians find the wearing of either garment challenges their view of democracy and equality. This was my own view until I remembered my own experience. I grew up in the Anglican church at the time when women were required to cover their heads when they went to church. Being genteel this was translated to mean a hat. These are not very practical so the practise gradually disappeared. For my catholic friends the arrangement was more practical- they carried a small square of cloth, usually lace, which they could fish out of their pocket as required.
In either case it didn’t make sense to me that the God we worshipped required women to cover their heads, even with a bit of crumpled cloth, in church. I wasn’t aware that men and women’s hair was any different so why should there be this discrimination? Others obviously felt the same and as equality between the sexes became more desirable the practice died out. I suspect that the same thing will happen in the Islamic church which is currently as male driven as the Christian church was then. We are far from having true equality in any church or society today but some of us are a bit further along the way than others. We need to be patient and tolerant and provide support for our sisters who are behind us on this path. Trying to force the issue will only make the path rockier for them.