This past month should be a wake-up call for feminism. Birmingham Metropolitan College has lifted the ban on students wearing the niqab and Blackfriars Crown Court has similarly allowed a defendant to give evidence whilst fully veiled.

In my opinion it is time for politicians to stop delegating this to individual institutions as a minor matter of dress code and instead set clear national guidance.

There are serious consequences for women if they are hidden from view in our courts and our classrooms. For individual campaigners this may be a free choice but what of those who, once the niqab becomes an accepted norm, are pressured into compliance as a badge of piety or purity? It would be naive to think that a thirteen year old would have complete freedom to reject family or peer group pressure.

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