A European dress code for women is coming into being, as niqabi outlaws in Belgium and Italy will attest. But if France is about to ban niqab, Parisian women may soon be permitted to wear trousers in public. It's never all or nothing.
Was the current frontlash against the niqab fuelled in part by the suspicion that the women were wearing pants under their flowing robes?
No matter. France is having yet another go at this. As reported in the British Telegraph, the last attempt at repealing the anti-trousers ordinance was seven years ago. It was unsuccessful.
The latest attempt to remove the outmoded rule was in 2003, when a Right-wing MP from President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party wrote to the minister in charge of gender equality. The minister's response was: "Disuse is sometimes more efficient than (state) intervention in adapting the law to changing morays." [emphasis added]
The minister was clearly trying to get out of a slippery situation. It's hard not to sympathize. There could be scores of these ordinances on the books, and the French National Assembly is about to add yet another. If they go back and fine-tune one, all of them are up for grabs.
Legislative chaos could ensue as ponderous, lumbering law tries to keep up with the fleet pace of fashion. Who knows how many more such eels might be caught in the Seine?