Muslim women who prefer the Islamic burkini as their choice of swimwear are no longer welcome at pools in the Austrian town of Hanfield.
The public ban, which comes about a month after a similar ruling made in the German town of Neutraubling, was reportedly pushed by far-right political group Freedom Party.
“In respect to the bathing rules, we are completely pleased with the adopted variant,” said FP member and town councilor Peter Terzer.
But statements from the town’s mayor Albert Pitterie suggest the burkini ban was implemented by officials based on sanitation regulations. The extra fabric the burkini requires is (apparently) considered unhygienic for the pool water.
“Nothing in particular has prompted the ban, however, the bathing rules have been in place for decades already,” Pitterie said.
The stricter dress code advocated heavily by Terzer can be viewed as an immediate response to the surge of refugees, and growing safety concerns for local bathers.
Recently, in the Austrian town of Mistelbach, a young female swimmer was reportedly sexually assaulted by a “dark-skinned” man. Although the identity of this man was not confirmed by authorities, the media has alluded to him being one of many migrants who fled to Europe during last year’s refugee crisis.
Looking to provide a safe environment for bathers, some public facilities in Austria have since outlawed all male refugees from entry.
“My main concern continues to be the safety of the female bathers,” said Terzer. “It can be ensured, that no person wearing a burqini can enter the pool.”
Sure, safety is – and always will be – a top priority, there’s no arguing that.
But many are left scratching their heads wondering how in the heck a restriction on a woman’s choice of bathing (or any type of) attire is a means to protect them, as Terzer suggests.
For those unaware, the whole concept of the burkini, which covers all of the body except the hands, face, and feet, is to provide comfort and ensure modesty for Muslim swimmers. But it is important to note that even non-Muslims prefer more modest swimwear styles, some of which offer extra midsection, leg, and back coverage.
So why have we yet to hear of a ban on tankinis or one-pieces or even those oversized T-shirts that male swimmers wear in an effort to hide their guts?
It’s simple. Because as much as they (lawmakers, anti-Muslim activists, Islamophobes, etc.) claim it’s a sanitation issue or for security purposes, it’s become painfully apparent that these bans are just the legal way to restrict Muslims from peacefully practicing their faith.
Additionally, these bans serve as an attempt to force assimilation, as well as outwardly and proudly reject the rules of the Islamic faith that Muslims must adhere to.
Besides this though, the question that always seems to resurface for Muslim women is this: Why is it that non-Muslims – men in particular – seem to be focused on telling us what we can and can’t do with our bodies?
Is it the dominant instinct or need to feel constantly superior to females, which allows for the dictating of our clothing choices? Or is it a mix of the recent rise in Western Islamophobia and the influx of refugees in Europe? Both could be the culprit.
What’s probably most upsetting, at least to some women, is to know that we as a society are once again punishing women for acts that men have carried out.
Remember, the Freedom Party of Austria claimed the burkini restrictions were set in place following several sexual harassment reports made by locals. But men were responsible, so why not hold them accountable? Why are we placing the burden on women, yet again?
Instead, Muslim women in this case, have had restrictions placed upon them in order to “protect” them.
Well, gee thanks guys, but next time we need “saving” we’ll be sure to let you know.