The Burka Brief

oz niqabIn the unlikely event that recent Afghan refugee Mrs Ziarata Zia is overcome by the urge to join Melbourne’s men-only Athenaeum Club she will know the lawyer to contact for help in smashing another of those patriarchal bastions of sexist discrimination and oppression that stop women living full and equal lives. And if Age reporter Miki Perkins feels like taking it easy, eschewing curiosity and journalistic diligence for cutting and pasting a press release that she can present as original work under her picture byline, she will know who to call as well.

Yes, Melanie Schleiger’s phone will be ringing off the hook that day. Indeed, she can expect to be almost as busy as the medicos and schedulers at the Monash Women’s Clinic, who as a consequence of the Victoria Legal Aid lawyer’s  latest crusade must now amend their protocols and office procedures to avoid offending and disconcerting Muslims. Especially pleased will be those husbands who insist on keeping fearful, brainwashed and terminally submissive wives in head-to-toe sacks.

As for the rest of us, the ones whose taxes underwrite the Monash clinic, Legal Aid and state-funded “anti-discrimination” watchdogs of the sort that figure in Ms Perkins’ stenography, let’s just say we are gaining a further education in the absurdities and obscenities of doctrinaire multi-culturalism, the cognitive dissonance of its enablers and, just as a bonus insight, modern journalism’s enthusiastic endorsement of its own debasement.

The first lesson is here, where the young Ms Perkins “reports” Mrs Zia’s success in forcing the clinic to provide a female doctor on demand to any woman in a niqab who “believes it is a sin to be seen without it or be touched by a man other than her husband or immediate family”, which happen to be very nearly the exact same words served up in Legal Aid’s press release.

Unmentioned in the Age story is what news editors of the old school would have regarded as essential background information, the sort of thing members of the reading public have a right to know. Chief amongst these unexplored angles is the fact that, according to the Monash clinic’s website, it has five male doctors on staff but only two female medicos. Previously, until Ms Schleiger went to bat for her client, the clinic advised that it was unable to allocate doctors according to patients’ gender preference and that those with what it diplomatically declined to describe as a seventh-century mindset should look elsewhere for their medical care.

Now, presumably, those female doctors will be obliged to become specialists by default in the nuances of culturally appropriate Islamic medicine. How modern, intelligent, highly educated and successful women might feel about being ordered to serve as house physicians in multi-culturalism’s seraglio would have made an interesting sidebar but, alas, it seems Ms Perkins made no phone calls and solicited no quotes, not even a bland “no comment.”

What Ms Perkins did do was reproduce Legal Aid’s crowing press release very nearly word-for-word. As an example of the way in which the press now sees itself as both handmaiden and megaphone of multi-culturalism’s commissars, here is what she has published:

For Ziarata Zia, the niqab she wears – which reveals only her eyes, hands and feet – is central to her Muslim faith. Ms Zia, who moved from Afghanistan to Melbourne in 2010, believes it is a sin to be seen without it or be touched by a man other than her husband or immediate family, except in an emergency.

And here is Legal Aid’s original version:

Ms Zia is of the Muslim faith, has limited English and wears a niqab, which reveals only her eyes, hands and feet. She believes it is a sin to be seen without it, or touched by a male other than her husband or immediate family members, except in an emergency.

There is much more of the near-identical same in the Age story — just a few words altered here and there, the odd paragraph lifted or lowered in the body of the text. Interestingly, the story appeared on the same day that parent company Fairfax Media reported revenues for the past twelve months had risen by less than a mere and pitiful one percent. Perhaps lazy and unquestioning journalism has something to do with it.

The lesson does not stop there however. Read the story, or the near-identical Legal Aid publicity hand-out, and it becomes immediately apparent, at least to those not gazing through cultural relativism’s distorting spectacles, that the real story is the multi-cultists’ promotion of inconsistency as a primary virtue.

Before scoring her latest column inches for winning women the right to have their bodies and lives wrapped in the shroud of an extreme and archaic  misogyny, Legal Aid’s Schleiger had some stern words for establishments such as the Athenaeum Club, which has declined to admit women as members, despite dissent amongst sections of the membership. These citadels of male privilege work against women’s advancement, she thundered in a 2010 Drum essay, because of the way any such  institution “systematically deprives women from developing their career potential and breaking into powerful business, political and community networks.”

Warming to her theme, she continued:

“The symbolic significance of these exclusionary practices – and their endorsement in our laws – should not be underestimated.  Nor should we be placated by claims that discrimination against women is a ‘non-issue’ … If we allow these clubs to retain their special protection, the joke is on us.”

Such a “joke”, apparently, is beyond the tolerance of career-oriented Western women who take their own equality as a given.  But when a woman is sentenced to spend her life in a sack, to never know the sensual pleasure of the wind in her hair, the kiss of sun on skin or the small taste of modern life that comes from being free to bare one’s face to strangers, even if only to a doctor, that is another matter entirely.

Go figure that inconsistency. And if the challenge is daunting, here is another, perhaps easier question: Why are tax dollars and publicly funded institutions supporting the institutionalised oppression of women, but only those of certain ethnic and religious backgrounds?

Why, it almost seems like racism.

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online. He limits his sexist oppression to holding the door for ladies, even though he full well understands they can do it for themselves






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