Attorney Cheryl Bormann is in the midst of defending alleged September 11th conspirator Walid bin Attash, a member of the so called Gitmo 5.
It was while meeting with her client that the Chicago-based lawyer began dressing in an abaya — a traditional Muslim woman’s garment that covers everything but the wearer’s face — to avoid distracting her extremely conservative client. Bormann herself is not Muslim.
“I want him to be able to fully concentrate on the proceedings at hand without any kind of interference or loss of focus.”
As an atheist and a feminist, I generally find the idea of abayas, burkas, etc disgusting and offensive. I think that they promote victim-blaming in cases of rape and the objectification of women in Islamic countries. My initial reaction to her choice of covering her body, arms, legs, and hair was that she was caving into a misogynistic tradition and that she was just encouraging their attitude against women.
Of course, who am I to tell anyone how to dress? I kind of swayed to the thought that it is her choice to dress the way she wants and if she thinks that it is in her client’s best interest to not be distracted by her slutty, slutty hair, then so be it. Sure, I find it fundamentally sick, but a lady needs a court victory! I am pro-sensible clothing. Maybe this is a really bright move on her part.And then she said this:
“If because of somebody’s religious beliefs, they cannot focus when somebody in the courtroom is dressed in a particular way, I feel then incumbent on myself as his counsel to point that out and ask for some consideration from the prosecution.”
Nope. You don’t get to tell other people how to dress, Ms. Bormann. Sorry. Your client has an insane, misogynistic, religious philosophy, not an ankle-allergy. You do what you think is best for him, and if that includes covering your body or doing back flips or setting yourself on fire, that’s all your choice and your prerogative as his legal counsel. Please do not expect anyone else to bend over backwards to accommodate his irrational fear of women’s extremities.