Just out of interest, with just how many burqa-wearing women did ABC newsreader and blogger Virginia Haussegger speak before writing her strident call to “Ban [the] unAustralian Burka“?

She calls the clothing “a tool of patriarchy used to subjugate women… [that] defies freedom… a symbol of control” – but, as a journalist, did it ever occur to her to – rather than simply stopping them to hector them – explore with these women who wear the veil why they do?

That’s certainly not in the Canberra Times piece she wrote.

Instead, she tells them what their clothing means, with the following the only sop she gives to the experience of millions of burqa-wearing women worldwide:

For a woman to argue she feels more comfortable hidden beneath her burka, away from the gaze of men, is unacceptable in modern society.

Oh, well, if you say so, Virginia.

NOTE: Virginia does not appear to have an easily-sourced email address, so I asked her on her blog whether she’d spoken with any burqa-wearing women, put her conclusions to them, and what their responses were*. Her response:

In answer to you “anonymouslefty”, in short yes. I have recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, where I spoke with many women who wore a burka every time they left their house. I also experienced wearing a blue burka myself.

Apart from the obvious problem with her sample – an Afghani woman wearing a burqa because she’s forced to through threat of violence in an unstable country is somewhat different to an Australian woman making that choice – it’s all very well for Virginia to say she “spoke with many women”, but she hasn’t given us a chance to fairly assess their arguments. She just paraphrases one vaguely and calls it “unacceptable”.

*I asked her what their responses were in a subsequent comment which she has neither responded to nor published, although she’s published later comments from other people.

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