A study has revealed that sexual assault victims wearing the hijab or niqab, when testifying in court, are viewed more positively than uncovered women. The research was aimed to investigate the importance of being able to see the face to judge credibility among witnesses, along with the importance of religious garments, reported Business Standard.
Contrary to expectations, the study led by researchers from UK's Lancaster University and Canada's Memorial University of Newfoundland, found that "positive biases" are created when women testify in court with either their hair covered (the hijab) or their face and hair covered (the niqab). The reason for the bias could be because the religious garments may signal that the wearer is more honest because of a positive view of religion.
The Muslim garment may dispel the common rape myth that the sexual assault victim was "asking for it" because it represents sexually conservative attitudes that are thought to disapprove of pre-marital or casual sexual encounters, the researchers explained.
The study involved four videos featuring an actress which were shown to 120 participants. Two videos where the woman wore either a niqab or hijab, a third where she wore a balaclava and the fourth where her face and hair were uncovered. In each video, a woman was filmed on the witness stand providing her testimony about a sexual assault she allegedly experienced.
The highest rating for credibility was given to the women wearing the niqab, followed by the hijab, then the balaclava and lastly the women with no face or head covering who was judged the least credible.
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