I once wore a burka. But I did not wear it as Pauline Hanson did this week, which was to attract attention to herself and her campaign to ban such garments. I wore it because, as a teenage Muslim girl who had enlisted in the Muslim Brotherhood, I was desperate to affirm my modesty and religious faith.

The burka is a garment that is designed to cover the whole body of a woman. Two main lines of argument are put forward for such shrouding. Both have their roots in Islam.

The first is purely religious and is a part of what I call the modesty doctrine. In this view a girl turns into a woman as soon as she starts to menstruate. From then on her entire body, including her face, hands and feet, her voice, her scent and sound are seen as a provocation of male sexual desire. A woman is modest if she does all in her power to avoid such provocation. She is deemed immodest if she is careless in the unwanted ­effects of her attributes or mere presence.

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