TORONTO - A law forcing women to dress conservatively to prevent sex assaults would "push the blame onto victims," women's rights advocates said Monday.
Calling Muslim cleric Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana's proposal to change Canadian laws to require women to cover themselves "offensive," the executive director of the women's shelter Nellie's said how a woman dresses has nothing to do with sexual assaults.
"I would like to find out the stats in the Muslim countries," Margarita Mendez said.
"The issue is the violence against women, power and control, and it has nothing to do with how women dress. I find his views very oppressive, and it's blaming the victim when we don't have control over men who are abusive."
Atangana has been criticized since he publicly aired his views Sunday that women should have a "dress code." The imam also commended Const. Michael Sanguinetti for advising a group of York University students last year that women should avoid "dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
But many women claim those views are out of line.
"Who's going to be passing a law like that in Canada?" Mendez said. "This is against women's right to safety and women's right to say no regardless of how they dress. No means no. Don't try to force me dress in a way that's not within my culture or beliefs."
Harmy Mendoza, of the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto, recalled her "blood boiling" after reading about Atangana's stated beliefs.
"Women are not to be blamed in this country or any other country in the world," she said. "These ideas have to be challenged."