The No Bill 94 Coalition believes that women should live free from all forms of violence. If approved by the National Assembly of Quebec, Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s proposed law would deny essential government services, public employment, educational opportunities, and health care to people who wear facial coverings. Bill 94 specifically targets Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil), violating the basic principles of non-discrimination and gender equality, as well as increasing barriers and risk to Muslim women experiencing violence.
Violence against women is a problem facing all women and access to services for women who are experiencing violence can mean the difference between life and death. If Muslim women who wear the niqab are essentially banned from accessing services, they wil not be able to seek the services they might desperately need. In addition, their rate of unemployment will rise and consequently become more vulnerable to violence.
Although touted as a step toward gender equality, Bill 94 will perpetuate gender inequality by legislating control over women’s bodies and sanctioning discrimination against Muslim women who wear the niqab. Gender inequality is not appropriately addressed by controlling women’s bodies, but rather by focusing on poverty alleviation programs and educational initiatives to enhance women’s choices and understanding of their rights.
The factors that actually enable women to escape poverty and violence include: publicly funded child care; pay and employment equity; initiatives to increase social assistance to reflect the cost of basic needs, health services, enhancement of the social safety net; access to decent jobs and wages; education and training; housing supports; programs to eliminate discriminatory barriers; and protections from exploitation, harassment, and unsafe working conditions.
If Premier Charest’s government is truly committed to gender equality it should foster a safe and inclusive society that respects a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Bill 94’s requirement to remove the veil by the state simply mirrors the paternalism it seeks to counter. If women are being compelled to wear the veil, legislation barring them from public is not the most effective tool to combat their loss of autonomy. It is neither proportional nor necessary in a vibrant democracy. Both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties have expressed support for Bill 94, which raises the very real possibility that similar legislation will be proposed across Canada. We demand that Bill 94 be withdrawn immediately, as it has no place in a democratic state that values autonomy, liberty and justice.
We hope that you will spread awareness about and mobilize against Bill 94. You can take action by:
HOST email hubs where friends, co-worker, communities and individuals can send messages opposing Bill 94 via our Emailer http://www.rsuonline.ca/NoToBill94 . The Emailer will automatically message Quebec Premier Jean Charest, along with Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Yolande James, Minister of Justice Kathleen Weil, and Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women Christine St-Pierre to voice your concern regarding the discriminatory Bill 94. You can also message your Member of Parliament, Member of the Legislative Assembly, and Member of Provincial Parliament. Find talking points and contacts here. http://nonbill94.wordpress.com/contacts-talking-points/
CHANGE your Facebook/Twitter/Tumbler display picture to a No/Non Bill 94 image/poster. Find image/poster here. You can also change your status to link the Emailer. Find the Emailer link here. http://www.rsuonline.ca/NoToBill94
ORGANIZE a rally in your community or attend ours in Toronto on December 3rd Bureau du Quebec at 20 Queen Street West on Dec 3rd Toronto 3 -5 to oppose and spread awareness about Bill 94. http://tinyurl.com/2dknw54
CIRICULATE this call to action widely to your networks, friends, allies, co-workers. Have conversations with them about your concerns about Bill 94 and refer them to articles on the proposed legislation. Find resources here http://nonbill94.wordpress.com/resources/
ARRANGE community information sessions and workshops on Bill 94 or attend ours on November 30th Toronto, Centre for Women and Trans People, University of Toronto 563 Spadina Avenue Room 100, North Borden Building 6:30 – 9 http://tinyurl.com/2786umo
Next week let us mobilize together to challenge Bill 94!