During last months meeting of the city council, I photographed women of the activist movement BOEH (Baas over eigen hoofd) who came to listen to a discussion on the issue of the dress code for city employees. BOEH wants women to be able to choose freely whether they wear or headscarf or not, both in public and private.
The previous mayor Patrick Janssens and his council issued a rule that no religious signs would be tolerated for city employees who work behind counters and in desk jobs in direct contact with the public.
In today’s newspaper, I’m reading that SP.A changes it’s mind on this.
‘Instead of hiding our differences, we should better find ways to learn how to deal with them’ says Yasmine Kherbache who leads the SP.A delegation in Antwerp.
‘How can we ask people to have respect for diversity, when at the same time we ask them to suppress their own diversity at work. What signal does a government give when they seem to confirm the perception that someone for instance wearing a headscarf probably isn’t capable to help a gay man, a jew or an unmarried woman?’
I couldn’t agree with Yasmine more. In my project Us/Them, I’m trying to let people see beyond the headscarf or color of ones skin. Now to be honest… this is proving to be much more of a challenge then I initially anticipated. I’ll tell much more about the reasons why and how later on. It does show however how necessary it is to do this project and to show people that no matter what religion we do or not have, no matter what clothes we wear, we are all people and we need to see beyond these symbols.