Supreme Court to rule today on wearing a niqab can be worn while testifying

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada rules this morning on whether a Muslim woman can wear a religious veil known as a niqab while testifying against two men she claims sexually assaulted her when she was a child.

Due to a publication ban, the Toronto woman can only be identified as N.S.

The woman accuses two relatives of sexually assaulting her over a four-year period that ended when she reached the age of 10.

The two accused claim the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows them to confront their accuser and observe her facial expressions as she testifies.

But the woman’s lawyers say facial expressions can be misleading, and add that Islamic sexual assault victims will be leery about going to police if they’re barred from wearing a niqab while testifying in court.

In a preliminary hearing in 2008, N.S. said she cannot show her face to any men who are not close relatives. When the judge ordered her to remove the niqab, she refused. The case made its way through the Ontario court system and was heard a year ago by the Supreme Court of Canada.

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