A female law student in Algeria was denied admission to an exam because the skirt she was wearing was deemed too short. Now her fellow countrywomen and men are raising their hems in protest.
In a Facebook group called “Ma dignité n’est pas dans la longueur de ma jupe”—which means “My dignity is not in the length of my skirt”—people are sharing photos of their bare legs in solidarity with the Algerian student.
According to French-language site La Libre, a spokesman from the University of Algiers said “The regulation does not require anyone to wear the hijab or chador. But it requires a decent outfit, both for girls than for boys.” He added that he felt there was “no discrimination.”
But Sofia Djama—an Algerian woman living in Paris who started the Facebook page—disagrees with the university’s stance. She wrote the following on the page, which is a rough translation:
I hope that this page will give energy for actions and that those who are fighting in the associations this page will be able to give them a little bit of energy and do Not give in to the pressure and have the strength to believe in what they are doing
Like many of the countries surrounding it, Algeria is not known for its stellar treatment of women. Amnesty International provides a brief overview of the human rights issues facing women in the country.
Women have continued to be subjected to considerable discrimination in law and practice. The Algerian Family Code, enacted in 1984, imposed many serious limitations on women’s rights, including the right to equality before the law and the right of self-determination; in response, women’s organizations have reinforced their campaigning activities for women’s legal equality. These activities have been severely restricted due to the state of emergency. Meanwhile, authorities have not acted with due diligence to prevent, punish, and redress acts of sexual violence against women or domestic violence against women.
The group has been receiving many threats from people who feel that Algerian women should be dressing more modestly.
A translation of this post implies that Djama was forced to moderate the comments due to threats, calling it a “pity” that some of the comments called for “violence and incitement to hatred.”