The Dutch Council of State says it should be up to women themselves to decide whether or not to wear garments which cover the face. The highest government advisory body argues that ministers shouldn't use a general ban to rule out the choice of some women to wear the burqa.

Last Monday, the government sent draft legislation for a 'burqa ban' to parliament. The proposal would outlaw the wearing in public of face covering articles such as burqas, full-face helmets and balaclavas.

One of the reasons being put forward by ministers to justify a ban is that the burqa and similar articles of clothing run counter to the equality of the sexes. The council, however, thinks this is something to be judged by individual women themselves.

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