We are living in 2022. And in a free society, what is the basic norm that we would accept? Well, everyone has a right to wear what they want to wear, subject of course to institutional dress codes and formalities.
Particularly, we would expect that women are freed of the compulsion to cover themselves ‘appropriately’. But that is not happening. There are actually some weird excuses being made to defend hijab.
Women get raped because they “don’t wear hijab”
To set the record straight, we are not saying this. Zameer Ahmed, a Congress MLA in Karnataka, said, “Hijab means ‘parda’ (veil) in Islam. It is for hiding the beauty of girls when they come of age. Today you can see that the rape rate is the highest in our country. What do you think is the reason for this? The reason is that several women don’t wear hijab.”
The MLA added, “But, wearing hijab is not compulsory, only those who want to protect themselves and those who don’t want to show their beauty to everyone wear it. This has been in practice for years.”
Earlier, a Karnataka BJP MLA MP Renukacharya said, “While studying in colleges, students should wear uniforms or a dress that fully covers their body. Rape cases are increasing as some dresses worn by women excite men, which is not good, because women have respect in our country, we regard them as mothers.”
Ice cream wrappers and women
The fact remains that just like beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, perversion lies in the mind of a pervert. Just because women dress ‘appropriately’, that perversion won’t go away.
But you have a lot of content floating on social media that actually defends covering women as a means of keeping them ‘pure’.
In a video going viral on social media, you can actually see a person purchasing two ice creams. One of the ice creams falls on the ground and this person offers it to someone. The other person replies, “I want the other one, because this one has got dirty.”
And the maker of the video then says, “This is exactly what I want to tell you…that why hijab is so important”. He then shows the ice cream and says, “See how it has got dirty.” If you use a hijab (ice cream wrapper), then it won’t get ‘dirty’. So, ice cream wrappers are getting compared to hijabs. And women? Well, they are being described as ice creams. Yes, this is the level of commodification of living women.
This is how they defend hijab— by commodifying women. Till yesterday she was a lollipop, today she is an icecream. pic.twitter.com/NiyMVgF7kM
— Shubhendu (@BBTheorist) February 12, 2022
Hijab fights depression
Now, if you see a video by a nondescript social media user coming up with a weird excuse for covering up women, you would be shocked. But you will say that such content does circulate on social media. So, no big deal.
But hijabs are being defended and subtly encouraged in academia too. A research article authored by a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work got published on Public Health Post in April 2019.
Titled, “Hijab Can Protect Women from Depression,” the research article claims, “To shed some light on this issue, my colleagues and I examined the relationship between veiling and depression with a diverse sample of Muslim women around the United States. We found no support for the common belief that wearing the hijab is linked to depression. In fact, we found the opposite. Muslims who reported wearing the hijab more frequently exhibited lower levels of depressive symptoms. Put differently, wearing a veil appears to protect Muslim women from depression.”
Nobel laureate compared size of clothing to degree of civilisation
And if you couldn’t believe all this, then please consider what Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman had to say. While answering a question by journalists about her hijab and how it was not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, she said, “Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved, he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I am wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.”
Apparently, the level of covering that your attire offers determines your level of civilisation. This is based on the classical- ‘less clothes, less civilisation’ jibes, and dismissing people as regressive for wearing what they like regardless of conservative dogmas and diktats.
Weird excuses float around promotion of hijabs and ‘decency’ in clothing all the time. But they also come from the supposedly suave and highly intellectual segments of the society, whom you would ordinarily expect to defend individual liberties and freedoms.