Precarious bodies: the securitization of the "veiled" woman in European human rights

Edmunds, Aneira J (2021) Precarious bodies: the securitization of the "veiled" woman in European human rights. British Journal of Sociology, 72 (2). pp. 315-327. ISSN 0007-1315

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This article examines how judicial human rights in Europe have adopted the security politics that have swept across Europe in recent years and how, through the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR)decision‐making over the veil they have contributed to the precarity of the Muslim woman’s body. While suffering from stigmatization through securitization of the veil (I am using ‘veil’ to describe various garments such as the hijab, niqab and burqa. For the purposes of this article, this is a useful shorthand), covered Muslim women’s (The concept of Muslim women is a misnomer because it suggests that Muslim women constitute a homogeneous group when they are not. Without denying their heterogeneity, its use here is suggestive of the way it is used by securitizing agents and narratives) attempts at strategic human rights litigation against bans on their clothing, including landmark cases such as SAS v. France, have failed. Institutional human rights in Europe have hijacked national governments’ security narratives and thus been complicit in furthering the bodily vulnerability of covered Muslim women by sanctioning the public stripping of their clothing. This transgresses human rights’ fundamental, normative, commitment to preventing bodily wounding. It exposes the conditionality and limitation of judicial human rights and endorses an idealized version of the exposed woman as free and equal. Moreover, by abandoning its role as neutral arbiter or audience, the ECtHR exposes human rights’ ongoing link with neo‐colonialism. The Court’s decision‐making raises the question of how veiled women might mobilize to desecuritize the veil. I suggest a return to the politics of rights combined with the “rebellious cosmopolitanism” resonant with Camus’ politics to mount relentless protests against governance feminism and the Eurocentrism of institutional human rights for a return to “normal politics”.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2021 11:23
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2021 10:15

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