PHOTOGRAPHS emerged this week of armed police apparently forcing a woman to undress on a beach.

One image shows four police officers approaching a woman reclining on a beach in Nice, a second shows the same officers hovering above her, watching intently as she removes her long-sleeved tunic.

In any other context, a group of men demanding a women remove her clothing would be rightly met with absolute outrage.

In this context, it’s an action driven and legitimised by what some insist on seeing as France’s latest stand against terrorism, the burkini ban.

In light of recent extremist attacks, at least 15 authorities in France have banned the burkini, the modest sportswear designed to give Muslim women the freedom to be active, to swim publicly, to more easily participate in sports.

The lady in the blue tunic is one of a number of women to have been confronted about their beach attire in the direct aftermath of the ban.

Many of those targeted and fined thus far were not wearing burkinis but were seemingly plucked from the crowd because they looked a bit too Muslim.

In Cannes this week, a woman was fined for wearing a headscarf, tunic and leggings on the beach.

French news agency AFP said she was given a ticket saying her outfit did not respect good morals and secularism.

It is becoming apparent that the authorities are not policing the burkini, they are policing the behaviour and appearance of women, specifically Muslim women.

The burkini ban appears to be doing little but taking away the liberty of women to dress as they wish, wherever they wish.

It’s sexist, Islamophobic and reeks of hypocrisy when you add to the mix the oft-repeated argument that pinpoints the burkini and related garments as symbols of patriarchal oppression.

It’s difficult to think of a more obvious symbol of patriarchal oppression than a lady forced to strip in public while surrounded by armed police officers.

Tensions are running high in France and I understand that as well as many of arguments for a secular existence, especially while living in an era coming to be defined by religious extremism.

That does not justify a world in which the innocent bodies of women are aggressively policed as they relax with their families on the beach.

A world in which blameless women will be left feeling unable to enjoy a day at the seaside for fear of being targeted by the authorities.

The burkini ban has been justified in Corsica by mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni as necessary to “protect the population”.

But it’s impossible for me to look upon the woman reclining on the beach in her blue tunic as a threat to France.

She’s one of a growing number of women identified as other, separated from the crowd, intimidated and publicly humiliated.

Agree with it or not, for many Muslim women, modesty is an integral part of their identity and forcibly stripping them of it seems an inexcusable abuse of authority.

Bullying women out of their clothes will not save anyone from terrorism.