hair discrimination underneath debate within the Assembly | EUROtoday

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Curly hair, braids, locks, blonde hair, purple hair or baldness… The National Assembly is contemplating this week a invoice aimed toward recognizing and punishing hair discrimination, significantly within the skilled setting. An initiative whose usefulness is contested, regardless of quite a few testimonies.

“It’s unprofessional, it’s dirty and it’s wild.” Kenza Bel Kenadil heard these phrases for the primary time in knowledgeable context when she was solely 17 years outdated, after years of being the goal of all types of derogatory feedback about her coiffure – curly hair styled in afro – from his college associates.

Later, when she takes up her place as a hostess in a lodge within the south of France, the younger girl is addressed by the director: “Either you go home and change your hairstyle, or You’re not coming to work.”

This type of discrimination, based on the cut, texture, color or length of the hair, is at the heart of the bill tabled by the deputy (LIOT) of Guadeloupe, Olivier Serva, which will be debated on Thursday March 28 , in the National Assembly. Its objective: to add hair discrimination to the list of discrimination punishable by criminal sanctions. A fight that Kenza Bel Kenadil, now 26 years old, is now publicly fighting, who has been using social networks for several years to fight against hair discrimination through videos, some of which have accumulated several million views.

At the time, faced with the threat from her boss, she finally returned home, “in tears”, to flatten her hair and tie it in a bun, she tells France 24. “I didn't perceive why my hair had an impression on my seriousness and my hiring.”

To stop such experiences from occurring once more, Olivier Serva suggests including to discrimination primarily based on bodily look the particular criterion of hair discrimination.

“It's historic, it's the first country in the world which – at the national level – recognizes hair discrimination as real discrimination”, reacted the Guadeloupean MP on March 18, after the approval of the textual content by the Law Commission, whose operate is to arrange the legislative debate in public session.

The solely equal exists within the United States the place the “CROWN Act” (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) of 2022 prohibits discrimination primarily based on hair within the office and at college. Adopted in 24 states and round thirty cities, it doesn’t apply on the federal degree.

In the United Kingdom, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed pointers in 2022 to forestall hair discrimination in British faculties, estimating that “Afro” cuts don’t shouldn’t be prohibited.

An current authorized arsenal, however not express

As for France, the explanatory memorandum of the proposed regulation specifies that “people who are victims of discrimination linked to the texture of their hair, their color or their hair style are deprived of a precise legal framework”. A place that sure deputies, notably from the MoDem, don’t agree with, who imagine that French regulation already has a authorized arsenal making it potential to battle in opposition to discrimination primarily based on bodily standards.

“This is a typical example of a bad idea: there is no legal vacuum,” Mr. Eric Rocheblave, a lawyer specializing in labor regulation, informed AFP. The Labor Code already gives that “physical appearance is a cause of discrimination” even when the regulation “does not explicitly provide for hair discrimination,” he says.

In the occasion of discrimination “because of hair, lack of hair, color, length or appearance, I could link it to already existing texts”, says Me Rocheblave.

The Penal Code, in its article 225-1, units out a listing of 25 discrimination standards prohibited by regulation. But these standards, in line with the defenders of the invoice, don’t go far sufficient.

“If this law were enough, we would not be subject to hiring refusals because of [nos cheveux]we would not suffer the remarks of colleagues, and the Air France steward would not have gone to the Court of Cassation”, reacts Kenza Bel Kenadil, referring to this member of the cabin crew pressured to put on a wig to cover his braids. In 2022, he managed to have the airline convicted of discrimination after ten years of proceedings, however on the premise of discrimination linked to intercourse, Air France rules authorizing the sporting of braids by staff of the identical intercourse female.

Hair reduce, colour, size or texture

While article 225-1 gives that “constitutes discrimination any distinction made between natural persons on the basis of their origin, their sex, their family situation, their pregnancy, their physical appearance (… )”, Olivier Serva intends to provide “necessary legal clarification”, by inserting the words: “in particular the cut, color, length or texture of their hair”. A clarification which will also have to be added to the provisions of the General Civil Service Code and the Labor Code dealing with discrimination.

According to a study carried out in 2023 by Dove and LinkedIn in the United States (where ethnic statistics are authorized, unlike France), two thirds of women of Afro-descendants said they changed their hairstyle before a job interview, their hair being “2.5 times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.”

Findings which don’t solely concern one ethnic group, in line with the presentation textual content of the invoice. It relies on a British research which, in 2009, revealed that one in three blondes coloured their hair to be able to enhance their possibilities of having a profession and “wanting extra clever” in a professional environment.

In an interview with France Info last April, the MP affirmed that this hair discrimination also affects bald men. “A study shows that they have 30% less chance of being able to progress in their company,” Olivier Serva explained at the time.

A public health problem.

While the deputies of the Republicans and the National Rally condemn the importation of a “sufferer logic into French regulation”, Kenza Bel Kenadil says she understands that we can “query ourselves about one thing of which we have now not been sufferer”. On the other hand, she adds, “for me, even when a single particular person suffers from discrimination, and no matter this discrimination is, they should be protected.”

In a video posted on her social networks, the influencer sports several curly hairstyles, ensuring for each of them that it is “skilled”, and accompanying the content with a text specifying: “My look doesn’t justify my abilities” .

In the comments under the publication, the testimonies multiply: “I used to be informed, 'when you go to a consumer assembly, you tie your hair up as a result of in any other case, we'll solely see you'; “Young nursing student, adding braids, I was asked if it was clean”; “I was told if I go to an interview that I have to straighten my hair”; “I have locks that I maintain with love. I eat up all the discrimination.”

Among different testimonies which have marked Kenza Bel Kenadil exterior of this publication, she relates: an individual with blond hair who was refused a place as a result of her hair colour was “not serious enough”, or else a receptionist who recorded an trade the place her employer insults her: “At the interview, they told you 'hair down or hair tied up but well done'. What is this thing? It looks like a lion's mane” .

In addition to a dimension referring to vanity and private confidence, the explanatory memorandum of the proposed regulation additionally mentions a big well being dimension, significantly with regard to the destiny of textured hair (curly, curly and frizzy). ).

“A person unable to wear their natural hair in a professional or school environment will be forced either to hide their hair or to transform it using chemicals,” states the textual content. Solutions removed from being innocent, tight hairstyles can in the end trigger traction alopecia (traumatic hair loss, by extreme stress on the hair), and merchandise used for straightening hair can , trigger burns.

In 2022, a research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) additionally revealed a correlation between using relaxers and the looks of uterine cancers, the chance of seeing a most cancers of this kind being better in ladies. ladies utilizing these hair merchandise (4.05%) than those that don’t use them (1.64%).

“This shows that the subject must be taken seriously enough,” underlines Kenza Bel Kenadil. “I am willing to hear that there is something more serious, but if we start from that observation, we will never move forward on anything.”