In trying to champion its Charter of Québec Values, the Québec government maintains that it will improve “gender equality” and ensure secularism of the state.

By prohibiting “the wearing of visible religious symbols” by civil servants and any other public staff, the PQ is mainly targeting women who wear the Islamic headscarf. Montréal’s Proletarian Feminist Front opposes this hypocritical and discriminatory measure. We consider it as an abuse of state power against women’s and migrants’ lives.

There would be 1,000 other changes to make if the government was really willing to fight against women’s oppression and inequality. Among them would be ensuring the right of women to autonomy, the right to work without being discriminated against, and the right to freedom of thought.

The measures put forward by the PQ are hypocritical and contradictory. On one side, they take away rights of Muslim women—and to everyone wanting to show their religion. But at the same time, they uphold the “right” of the Québec government to display a crucifix at the National Assembly and they allow praying in City councils and public funding for religious schools. Abolishing those privileges for certain religions is precisely the kind of actions that would be needed to ensure that the state becomes truly secular.

By giving exclusive privileges to the Catholic religion, the PQ shows that its “secularism” is nothing but a joke. The “heritage” that the PQ is defending lags a long history of oppression and injustice against women.

Both religion and the capitalist state oppress women!

Most religions, both in their writings and practice, have treated women as inferior. In Québec, in Canada and elsewhere, governments, the capitalists and the ruling parties used religion to varying degrees to justify their unfair policies towards women. Corporations and the state did this when the Catholic Church in Québec enjoined working women to go back home after World War II, or in the 1950s when the priests literally forced thousands of women to continue to grow their already large families, on behalf of “conjugal duty.” If there is a symbol of women’s oppression that Québec should get rid of, it certainly is the crucifix that the most rightist PM in Québec history, Maurice Duplessis, installed behind the Speaker’s chair at the National Assembly!

It seems obvious for anyone that the State should not force any woman to wear the hijab; but then, why should we ban it? Why should we give the State—which is basically capitalist and unequal—so much power over individuals and in this particular case, over women?

In Québec as in the rest of Canada, the fight against reactionary ideas (there are such in all religions) should be waged collectively among the working and oppressed people. We must unite women and men of diverse origins around a project of emancipating and egalitarian society. This project—of a world free from exploitation, racism and women’s oppression—cannot be accomplished within the frame of the current capitalist system or by relying on a State that supports the powers that be. We should refuse to give to the State any additional power over our lives.

  • We’ll fight to unite women who are rejected by the bourgeois system in a collective class struggle.
  • We’ll support women who seek freedom from oppression, whether from their family, from work or from religion.
  • We’ll resolutely fight against any religious state or any state whose policies would be coloured by one religion or another.
  • Similarly, we’ll fight against any state that wants to decide for us, as it protects and defends the bourgeoisie and the rich.
  • We’ll fight any state policy that undermines the little power that women, especially poor and migrant women, have over their lives.

We must get rid of oppression itself… rather than symbols! As long as we live in an unequal system led by a minority of rulers who exploit the working people—especially women and migrants—we must oppose state power and demand the following rights:

  • The right to dignity and respect.
  • The right for everyone to show their difference, in opinion and in spiritual and sexual orientation.
  • The right to decent work and salaries.
  • The right to housing.
  • The right to a free and secular education, dedicated to the development of individuals in an egalitarian society free from exploitation.
  • This is the only “charter” that we dream of!

And we are demanding nothing less than that… until we’ll change the whole system!

Proletarian Feminist Front – Montréal

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