Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Woman must remove niqab to testify

A Muslim woman must remove her niqab before testifying against two men accused of sexually assaulting her three decades ago, an Ontario judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision by Justice Norris Weisman comes after years of legal wrangling, pitting the accused's right to a fair trial against the complainant's freedom of religion. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where a split decision effectively sent it back to the lower court.

While Judge Weisman wrestled with the implications of making the woman — who can be identified only as N.S. — choose between her religious convictions and her desire to seek justice, he ultimately gave greater weight to the potential negative consequences for the accused.

"On a broader societal level, should the niqab impede effective cross-examination of the complainant by the accused's counsel, they will not be able to assess the witness's demeanour and tailor the thrust and direction of their questions accordingly," Judge Weisman noted in his ruling. "Wrongful convictions could ensue with resulting loss of public confidence in the justice system."


Anonymous said...

Have you even been to Brazil? folks on the beach there are comfortable with tiny, tiny bikinis. It's the cultural norm. However, for this woman, the cultural norm is the direct opposite. Imagine, if you will, being required to wear a tiny bikini, because that's the cultural norm, in order to seek justice. Would you do it, or recoil in humiliation, horror and shame? We've just closed the door on Islamic women seeking justice through our justic system. I hope all the men are happy with that result, cause it seems to be them calling the shots. Two thumbs down.

The Rat said...

Cultural norm reduced to the absurd. These men, awful as they might be, have a right to defend themselves. That's one of those real rights, not one of the new, progressive rights like the one to not be offended. It is not unreasonable to see her face and expression in a closed courtroom.

Back to the bikini thing, if a woman claimed breast surgery was botchedcshe would reasonably have to provide photos of her breasts, hopefully sealed by the court. It is the same concept of providing evidence that can be challenged.

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