Muslim women's dress codes have come into the political spotlight in both Muslim-majority and non-Muslim societies. At one end of the spectrum the state has sought to enforce Islamic dress codes while at the opposite end the state has sought to ban certain items of women's religious dress.
Under the Taliban, Afghan women were forbidden to appear in public unless they were wearing the all-enveloping burka. Now, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proclaimed that the burka and other forms of face-covering are not welcome in France.
In Australia, too, Muslim women's dress has been at the center of a heated political and social debate.
This public debate brought together three leading figures to discuss questions such as whether we should ban the burka or respect the right to wear it, if the burka is a form of male oppression, what would be the effect of banning a piece of women's clothing and does the state have a place in a woman's wardrobe?
Professor Hilary Charlesworth is an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and Director of the Centre for International Governance and Justice at The Australian National University. She is an expert in international and human rights law.
Virginia Haussegger is an award winning journalist, author and social commentator. Her outspoken views on women and their place in contemporary society have been widely debated in the Australian media, in public forums and on talkback radio. She currently presents the nightly news for the ABC in Canberra.
Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher, focusing on Islam, gender and South Asia. She is currently completing her PhD on encounters between Western and Muslim women at the Australian National University.
Julie Posetti is a journalist and journalism academic from the University of Canberra.
She is currently undertaking a PhD on the way the media portrays Muslim women and has published academically and journalistically on this theme.