Why is feminism so quiet about Muslim women who refuse to wear the hijab?

There have been many words written about Kevin Myers’ recent Sunday Times column; some in support of him, but many against. Myers may insist he’s not a misogynist but if it walks like a duck then we’ll call him out on it. Irish feminists – both male and female – have had a lot of calling out to do over recent decades and we haven’t shied away from that.

When I was born Irish women weren’t allowed to collect children’s allowance, sit on a jury, put their name to the deeds of their home or, in some cases, work after marriage. Rape within marriage wasn’t a crime because a wife was, essentially, sexually owned by her husband. Decades of hard, tough slog by feminists changed many of Ireland’s anti-women laws. Ditto our anti-homosexual ones. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. But if you believe that all people are created equal, you fight for it.

So why then, do liberal, feminist calls for equality stop at borders? I am at a loss to understand why equality is purely for one particular group of people and not for others. If I believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then surely that shouldn’t change no matter who I am or where I live – even if I was an Afghani woman living in Kabul or a Persian living in Iran, a woman in Riyadh or Roscommon?

Trump and his ilk would like to divide us into “Us” and “Them” and we are wise to call them out on their noxious racism and misogyny, their hateful bigotry. But this should not mean that we blindly defend practices – against women and minorities – that we would never tolerate in our own countries.

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