Burkini: When men tell women to undress for modesty's sake
Women’s burkini swimwear seems to provoke controversy. In 1907, the Australian world champion swimmer, Annette Kellerman, was arrested by police for indecency. Her ‘crime’ was to wear a one-piece swim suit that stopped above her knees. Decades later the bikini was banned in several countries after its first appearance in 1946. Proclaimed ‘sinful’ by the Vatican, the fashion magazine Modern Girl Magazine wrote in 1957 that "it is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing".
And now there’s the burkini, swimwear that covers everything except a woman’s face, hands and feet. It’s popular with some Muslim women who want modest clothing. This August in France over twenty coastal municipalities declared a ban on burkinis. Dozens of women have since been fined for wearing a burkini based on the grounds that the outfit does not respect “good morals and secularism”. In Nice, four police officers demanded that a Muslim woman lying on the beach remove her long-sleeved tunic. Photographs of the incident went viral and prompted an international debate. While France’s highest administrative court has ruled that the burkini ban of the town of Villeneuve-Loubet is illegal, mayors of other communities with similar laws have refused to lift their bans.