Monday, 17 November 2014

Veiled Frenchwomen Tell 5 Stories of Harassment

 women in headscarves

 Separated from Other Students

Sirine Ben Yahiaten, 17, has been wearing the veil since she was 14. From December 2011 through May 2012, she says she was harassed by the head of her school as well as other staff members who wanted her to stop wearing wide hair bands and long skirts. Eventually Ben Yahiaten left to complete her education at another school.
It was the month of December and it was cold. I had a long skirt and sweatpants underneath. I was wearing a wide hair band on my head. One of the teachers called me upon my hair band and asked me to remove it. I didn't understand why. He told me that it was an ostentatious sign. There was nothing of ostentatious in my opinion. He asked me three times to remove it. I kept refusing. He then took to me the office of the principal. While waiting for the principal, her secretary told me that I should not be wearing a pair of sweatpants under my skirt because there was a law that bans such dress code. The truth is that there is no law. I tried to explain that the weather warrants my choice of dressing... The principal didn't show up so I was sent back. But on my way back to class, I was asked to return to the principal's office. She told me that my skirt was too long and students walking behind me could fall because of its length, so she said that I was posing a threat to the security of the students. As for the headband, she said it prevents me from hearing well during the class. After that episode, I was sent to study period class everyday until I would agree to take off my hair band and long skirt. Every time I entered the school, someone was waiting for me to accompany me to the study period class since I was no longer allowed to have any contact with other students. I was not allowed to go out during class breaks. I was given exercises to do but I was never given makeup material for the courses that I had been missing.

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