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A Small But Significant Disability Link In The Niqaab Debate

September 20, 2013

The Niqaab (full face covering used by some Muslim women) has been in the news quite a bit in Britain over the last two weeks after a witness refused to remove it in court. A judge then ruled that while she can wear it in the courtroom, she must remove it on the witness stand.

He was right in my personal opinion, and I’ve said so at my new site.

However, until tonight, I haven’t found a disability link in the story.

Then, tonight on Question Time, the point was raised by Ken Clarke that judges, juries and magistrates can judge whether witnesses are telling the  truth using their facial expression.

David Dimbleby responded with what I like to call a classic reply. He said “So would you not have blind jurors?”

The reply was that blind jurors have their own ways of working out what people are doing.

The point is, putting the religious/cultural point aside, I think that is a very good question.

Of course I personally think blind people should be allowed to serve on juries, with appropriate support. Of course, they can’t help not being able to use facial expressions to see what is being said.

The difference, of course, is that some would say covering your face for religious reasons can be helped. It can, at least, more than a lack of eyesight.

However, there are some women who are forced to wear the niqaab by men, as I’ve said in the post linked above. But, as I’ve also said in the post linked above, I think the niqaab should be removed on the witness stand, where seeing a person’s face is required.

I am not trying to compare the two situations but, since the question of blind jurors was raised, I hope you all agree with me that blind jurors should be allowed. If you don’t please tell us why not.

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