In Your Face
Law, Justice, and Niqab-Wearing Women in Canada
This book explores the experiences of a group of women in Canada who are small in numbers yet have garnered much legal, political, and social attention in recent years. Muslim women who cover their faces with a veil arouse visceral reactions in people who, despite exposure to diverse ways of living through multicultural urban environments, seem to have fixed notions of how women ought to live the good life. Politicians have denounced the niqab for a variety of reasons, calling on Muslim women to simply take it off. Where such persuasion has failed, legislative attempts have been made, some successfully, to prohibit women from covering their faces in certain contexts, including courtrooms, citizenship ceremonies, public spaces, and while working in the public service. This book analyzes niqab bans in Canada while also drawing on interviews with niqab-wearing women to reveal their complex identities and multiple motivations for dressing in this way.
Natasha Bakht is a full professor of law at the University of Ottawa and the Shirley Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession. She has taught courses in family law; criminal law; children and the law; the law and policy of multiculturalism; and women, religion, and law. She was called to the bar of Ontario in 2003 and served as a law clerk to Justice Louise Arbour at the Supreme Court of Canada. Her legal scholarship explores the intersection between religious freedom and women’s equality. She served as the English language editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law from 2014 to 2020. Natasha’s legal activism includes involvement with the National Association of Women and the Law and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). She was named one of the top fifty people in city by Ottawa Life Magazine (2009), received a Femmy Award by International Women’s Day Ottawa for being a thought leader in the National Capital Region (2017), and received the South Asian Bar Association’s Legal Excellence Award (2019).