By now, the word of the arrest of the leader of the Burka women for child abuse of the most unspeakable and inexcrable sorts, is common knowledge. (If you're not in the know, see Sari Makover-Balikov's interview with her before the arrest; and the sordid details here, here, and here.) The responses one hears around (in shul, in the library, and the media) are a mix of schadenfreude and dismissiveness (as in 'They're crazy' or 'They're crazy בעלי תשובה').
Personally, after I heard the news, I felt more of the former than the latter. Indeed, the tendency among both Haredim and Dat'im to dismiss the Burka phenomenon and its denouement as the perversity of some crazy returnees is self-serving, irresponsible and malignant.
It is self-serving because it exculpates many in the Orthodox world who, while objecting to the Burkas (obviously the abuse is a pathology), have become increasingly obsessed with female modesty as the sole significant issue facing the Torah in contemporary society. (Men, evidently, need not be modest.) The solution to every social woe (Drugs, promiscuity, Gossip, Theft, and Talking in Shul) is always (as one therapist noted): 'Throw another smatte on the women.' In other words, the crazies simply read the signals that inundate the community and are constantly preached by rabbis, educators and others and took them to their logical (if absurd) conclusions.
It is irresponsible, by extension, because it means that the same obsessive behavior that is advocated by our modern day Torquemadas will not come under criticism.
It is irresponsible because it turns a blind eye to real, serious problems that gnaw away at the community.
It is malignant because it continues the self-congratulating posture, elitist attitude and foul discrimination that characterizes the attitudes of many 'Frum From Birth'ers to 'Ba'alei Teshivah.' The latter brag about the former. In the Haredi world, especially, however, they will not let them into their schools, play with their children or ( a fortiori) marry them.
Now, in light of the total break down of morality (sexual and otherwise) in Western Society, I understand why there is great concern for modesty as a means of saving the family as an institution and protecting our children from a myriad of מרעין בישין. Appropriate clothing is part of that struggle. It is not, however, the solution. It is only one small element thereof. [The same should be said of the Jim Crow buses, but I'll save that for another time.]
It is time that we take a closer look at the issues and the challenges. It is time we engaged them, rather than covering them up (תרתי משמע). If we don't, the Burkas will come back to haunt us.