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Debates related to Muslim women’s dress, specifically, often pit religious freedom, individual liberty, and cultural rights against women’s rights and gender equality. Hélie's response to Yildirim (specifically her discussion of national and international legal responses to “headcoverings”) does not focus on legal aspects, but rather on gendered practices and their ideological roots.

Hélie adopts a global lens, recognizing that whilst historical and socio-political specificities are crucial to grasp the nuances of each context, questions related to dress codes in Muslim contexts nevertheless relate to issues affecting our world at large. Hélie discusses two main aspects of Yildirim's argument - namely: “headcoverings” as an expression of personal religious identity; and “headcoverings” with respect to tradition.

In order to assert that veiling cannot be apprehended solely as a private choice, Hélie considers the ways state and non-state actors promote veiling in various settings. Hélie's closing points reassert the need to distinguish “covered girls” from adults, and the risks inherent to defining the human rights framework and human rights values as a Western project.


This article was originally published in the Santa Clara Journal of International Law, available at



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