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We stand for unconditional respect for the right of an individual to make the choices in her/his life, big and small: profession, marriage, observance of cultural traditions and religious precepts, expression of her/his beliefs – and most certainly which parts of the body to show or to keep hidden. No person and no government can interfere with those individual choices.
For it is My choice, Not yours.
Hollaback! Brussels believes it’s high time for the silent majority to take a stand. The “right of free choices” should once again become a real right.
This is why we have signed the charter “My Choice Not Yours” and are joining the charter’s project, campaign and event, set up by Rachida Aziz – the inspirational woman and fashion designer behind the label/project Azira.
There have always been family, societal and material factors which put pressure on us when we are making those big life choices. It takes courage and willpower to speak out on your ideals and to lead the life that you want to. This struggle begins as a teenager and often lasts throughout our whole life.
In recent years, unfortunately an extra pressure has arisen. Respect for the choices other people make also means having respect for diversity. However, there has been a gradual rise in opposition to diversity. Some people seem to assume that society’s problems can only be solved by eradicating all the differences between people. More and more things are being banned: people no longer being allowed to cover their hair, and now the recent demand to the staff in Antwerp City Hall of not wearing rainbow t-shirts.
It is not possible to ‘neutralise’ people. People have dreams and desires, they have their own peculiarities and quirks and sometimes even their flaws. They are individuals and it is only if they are respected as individuals that they can also live together.
We urgently need to return to the original definition of what ‘neutrality’ stands for: a government which guarantees the right of all citizens to freedom of belief and religion, and which itself does not represent any particular belief. Neutrality therefore does not mean that everyone has to look the same but it does mean that everyone should be treated with the same respect.
Women are still the greatest victims of the increasing patronizing attitudes. Women have to be able to decide for themselves which parts of their body they do or do not want to show, without being punished or excluded by society, and without being catcalled at in the street. Whether or not it is for religious reasons. Regardless of whether they want to cover the hair on their head, or simply expose the hair on their legs.
So let us act together against this move towards conformity, because we all suffer from it. By working together we can also give each other the power to be proud of our own choices. However bizarre or normal they may be.
Because it is, indeed: My choice, not yours.
In the next few months there will be an event where we’ll bring this strong message across.
Wanna rise up with us? If you or your organization want to join and sign this charter, simply contact us and we’ll get right back to you.
Follow the “My choice, Not yours” facebook page!
Who is Rachida Aziz?
Rachida Aziz is the woman/designer behind Azira.
“Difficult to describe her! Because she refuses to “swim with the tide”. Sometimes she looks like a woman of contradictions or even a rebel. Though no one else knows how to connect extremes through balance and beauty better than herself. Petite but with huge charisma, an idealist with big dreams and still accepting the – not so beautifully looking – world that surrounds her. Dancing on a tight rope, fashion designer Azira shares her creations and her perceptions with us, her ideal public, preferably diverse yet as connected as possible.”
Watch Rachida tell all about her life and project in the fascinating and inspiring TEDtalk below.
Your Hollaback! Brussels team: Angelika, Ingrid, Quentin, Anna, Julie & Jo.
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