Niqab: some things should not be tolerated
Those who defend, or even promote, the veiling of women often say that Britain is supposed to be a tolerant country. That, we hope, is generally true but it is also true that we should not tolerate the intolerable.
That includes some traditional customs practised by some immigrants from Asia and Africa, which are anathema in our society, namely female genital mutilation, forced marriage, “honour” killings and the oppression of women, of which the wearing of the veil is an example and is apparently on the increase. Is this really a free choice? Are the very young girls that we see – even in primary schools, with their heads bound up in smothering cloth –genuinely making a choice?
In Egypt a few years ago I mentioned to our lecturer, an Egyptologist of distinction, and herself in western dress, how surprised I was to see virtually all the women in Cairo wearing at least the headscarf.
“Yes,” she replied, with some bitterness, “and if you had been here 20 years ago you would have seen very few.” She explained that this was the consequence of steady, unrelenting pressure on young women by imams and relatives to be “good” Muslims and cover themselves accordingly.
Patricia A Baxter, Royston, Hertfordshire
The argument that a woman wears a niqab out of modesty does not wash. In this country, the full veil is as provocative as a mini-skirt. A truly modest woman does not wear either. Unremarkable, loose-fitting clothes, as worn by many British women, would allow her to pass unnoticed on our streets.
Daphne Tomlinson, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire
Safe storage of nuclear waste
I regret that Tom Bawden (“Lakes threatened by nuclear waste”, 14 September) may have given readers a wrong impression. A large proportion of the waste requiring disposal was accumulated over the early decades of weapons manufacture and has become steadily more difficult to contain safely above ground by the failure of governments, of either persuasion, to face up to the long-term problem of safe containment.
The safest proven method of disposal is to convert the most dangerous and active materials to glassy solids (thus reducing their volume) and store in underground caverns, as practised in Sweden and Finland. Having decided on this solution to the problem, it then becomes logical to use such facilities for present and future fissile waste from power plants. The modern versions of these plants produce relatively small volumes of waste.
Roger Knight, Swansea
Shambolic rule of the UKBA
The shambles which reportedly characterises the UK Border Agency is not restricted to the department dealing with immigration and asylum.
A Polish friend of mine, an EU citizen now resident and working in the UK for seven years, had occasion, in September 2011 to make a straightforward application to the Agency for documentary confirmation of her residence status. This involved them in the examination of a simple form and the scrutiny of supporting documents.
The Agency sent a response, including my friend’s and her children’s passports, her and their birth certificates and her marriage certificate. All of these documents were sent not to the address she had entered on the application, but to one she had left three years previously. All were lost and had to be replaced at huge cost and inconvenience to my friend.
The Agency did not even acknowledge let alone deal with her detailed claim for reimbursement and she was eventually paid in June this year during proceedings in the County Court. An apology was not forthcoming.
UKBA is part of the Home Office and has, over many years, become totally unfit for purpose. Any administration which presides over a civil service usually ensures that, as far as reasonably possible, departments perform their functions efficiently. Could it be that the same rule has not been rigorously applied to this one because its “customers” are pretty much all foreign and unlikely to have either the resilience or resources to counter such crass ineptitude as we have witnessed?
Barry Butler, Birmingham
High street sweet-pusher
Brenda Beamond (Letters, 21 September) comments on W H Smith’s assistants being obliged to offer sweets with any purchase. My own response is to ask if they are trying to make me ill – I am diabetic. Maybe if enough assistants are sufficiently embarrassed, the message will get through to management and the pressurised selling might stop.
Keith Bailey, Basingstoke, Hampshire
My son has finally managed to find a job. He immediately comes off jobseekers’ allowance, paid two weeks in arrears. For the job, he will get paid monthly in arrears. How is he supposed to live for the two weeks when he receives no support?
Nerina Diaz, Heversham, Cumbria
Attack of the drones
I wonder if the Reaper drones and their faceless pilots will ever inspire stories like The Dam Busters or Reach for the Sky? It is good that pilots are no longer in danger, but it seems repugnant that death is delivered from a great distance and in a way that makes it unsuitable for public consumption.
Ian McKenzie, Lincoln
Wanton sexism at the Emmys
Next to your short piece on the Emmy awards were pictures of no fewer than 10 women with comments solely about their attire. No mention was made of their talents, nor were there any photographs of men at the same event, let alone any remarks about their clothing. Is it any wonder that women still struggle to be taken seriously in the world when a progressive newspaper such as The Independent indulges in such wanton sexism and double standards?
Ian Richards, Birmingham
Lord of the fly swatters
Rolled-up newspapers, plastic swatters or cobwebs (Letters, 25 September)? No. As any schoolboy will tell you, nothing is more effective and satisfying than hunting down flies with three or four elastic bands joined together.
Dr Edwin Stephens