Canberra Muslim woman Nurcan Baran says she has stopped wearing her hijab for fear of being attacked.
On Thursday Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry approved new interim rules to force Muslim women who cover their faces to sit in a separate glass-enclosed public gallery in Federal Parliament.
But Prime Minister Tony Abbott stepped in and asked Ms Bishop to reconsider the ruling.
Mrs Baran said the increasingly strident debate has stirred unease with Canberra’s Muslim community.
The 22-year-old mother and part-time law student at the University of Canberra began thinking about wearing a hijab at 13, but did not start wearing one until she was overseas in 2012 aged 19.
The self-proclaimed “proud Muslim feminist” emphasised she chose to wear the hijab and was not forced.
“They say it is meant to stop men looking for you. It is not,” she said.
“It is for that woman’s own modesty and I think instead of being viewed as a tool of oppression it needs to be viewed as a woman’s choice.”
But Mrs Baran said she chose to stop wearing the hijab in December 2013 because of negative treatment she was receiving in Canberra.