Parents in these neighborhoods ask gynecologists to testify to their daughters’ virginity. Polygamy and forced marriages are commonplace. Many girls are banned from leaving the house at all. According to French-government statistics, rapes in the housing projects have risen between 15 and 20 percent every year since 1999. In these neighborhoods, women have indeed begun veiling only to escape harassment and violence. In the suburb of La Courneuve, 77 percent of veiled women report that they wear the veil to avoid the wrath of Islamic morality patrols. We are talking about France, not Iran.
A clothing ban is highly distasteful. It's possible that one has to live through the consequences of widespread veiling, as Berlinski has (and I haven't), to gain an emotional, not merely intellectual, understanding of the necessity of banning it. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but Berlinski supplies the best argument I've read to date.