On April 11, 2011, Kenza Drider, a 32-year-old mother of four, broke the law in Paris: she wore the niqab in public. She had traveled by train from her home in Avignon to protest a new law banning the full-face Muslim veil in all public spaces throughout France.
In June 2010, 25-year-old Louiza (not her real name) was shot at close range with a paintball gun as she walked down the street in Grozny because she wasn’t wearing a headscarf. That summer many women in the Russian republic of Chechnya fell victim to attacks and harassment during a “virtue campaign” to force women to cover themselves.
What these two incidents have in common is interference—sometimes brutal, always wrong—with the fundamental human rights of women in the name of religion, tradition or misguided protectionism.