[Representational Image]flickr.com/ MichaÅ' Huniewicz

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has said in its election manifesto that it wants to ban burqa in the country because the traditional full-body covering of Muslim women leads to Vitamin D deficiency — more specifically because it prevents "intake of essential vitamin D from sunlight."

The UK, which is still recovering from the Manchester Arena terrorist attack that has led to 22 deaths, had seen political parties suspend campaigning for the June 8 election that will help it choose its next prime minister or return Theresa May to power.

What UKIP manifesto says

However, the UKIP broke away from the other parties and resumed campaigning by releasing its election manifesto, in which it said: "Clothing that hides identity, puts up barriers to communication, limits employment opportunities, hides evidence of domestic abuse, and prevents intake of essential vitamin D from sunlight, is not liberating."

It also said: "There is no human right to conceal your identity. If anything prevents liberty, it is the niqab, by preventing women from being perceived as individuals in their own right. We want to open opportunities to all women, so that they can participate fully in life and in the workplace."

Is it plausible?

There have been well-documented studies of Muslim women suffering from deficiency of Vitamin D because they cover their entire body, because exposure to sunlight leads to production of the vitamin at the skin or dermal level. 

While there are views in many quarters that this concept of Vitamin D deficiency due to wearing of burqa is a purely Western construct to further one more argument against burqas, the issue has been studied and reported in the Muslim-dominated Middle-East itself! 

An article published by Aisha M Siddiqui and Hayat Z Kamfar in Volume 3 of the 2007 edition of the Saudi Medical Journal said it had been found in a study of more than 400 schoolgirls aged 12-15 in the western region of Saudi Arabia: "There was a positive correlation between low calcium in the diet and less sun exposure to low levels of vitamin D."

Woman in sun
[Representational image]Creative Commons

Why is the idea being pooh-poohed?

Vitamin D deficiency can hardly be the cornerstone of a decision on burqa ban. Sure, it can be one of the reasons behind it, but the main reason has to be something that all relate to. Therefore, on the face of it, the logic the UKIP has given behind its plan for a burqa ban sounds every bit as right-wing as the party is seen in political circles. 

More importantly, and as mentioned earlier, the sun itself is not responsible for Vitamin D intake through the skin. It is the human body that makes its own Vitamin D when it is touched by sunlight.