Need your help to see clear through confusion

Posted September 16, 2011 from Italy

Dear Sisters,

after watching a tv programme, last night, I decided to write and ask for your precious help. The tv piece was about Islam minorities in Italy, immigrants, and the fear of terrorism. The women condition was also approached. I must say, beyond all expectations, the programme was very well done, delicate and correct in words, it was clear that the intention was to descourage all sorts of prejudice and easily shaped stereotypes. The thing was quite surprising because public tv does not always offer good service and information, thus altering truth or creating false images which can even alter social balance. This was fortunately not the case.

Yet, I have a doubt so now, I come to you with a question which has long been crossing my mind: please, I would like to know more about the Burqa. What was its origin, do women really choose or like to wear it? Is it related to religion or is it just a male imposition? How do you feel about it in your own experience? And what about the Hijab?

The information I have are confiusing and contradictory, so now that I have a chance, I would like to be taugth more straight from your voice.

Thank you

Comments 6

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  • Usha K.C.
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    sis,, thank you so much that you shared it here. it's question of mine too, I wonder about burka , how can women wear ,, is this comfortable to wear?? if not then where has human rights gone?? but it does not mean to hate any riligious tradition.

    Me too eagerly waiting the fact feeling from any of our sisters who use to wear this.

  • Stella Paul
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Dear Friend

    I am not qualified enough to answer your question. But I believe, there are friends in this forum who can. And to all of them, I would also like to ask one more question: During a discussion recently, a friend of mine (who is a staunch supporter of the Burqa) said that in countries where Burqa is mandatory, crime against women, especially rape is extremely low. He cited the example of Saudi Arabia. I studied the fact. Yes, Saudi Arabia, in the UN rape index, stands at 65th position. However, Saudi Arabia also follows Sharia Law in its strictest form, which prescribes death penalty to a rapist.

    My question therefore is, if the crime rate (especially rape) is low, is it because of the Hijab(Burqa),or it is because of the law? Would really like to have an informed opinion on that.

  • Maria
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Dear, you brought forward a very interesting point for discussion and, personally, I thank you for giving me an information I ignored. Well, should it come out that rape percentage is low in countries where Burqa is mandatory only because men do not see women and are therefore not induced to rape them, it would be extremely worrisome... The second case you propose, would not change my reaction much anyway, for I think we all do agree it should be natural of men not to have harmful or dominant feelings or manifestations towards women.

    Let's wait for our friends' comments on it

  • Jency
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    I too am not qualified to answer the question, especially the religious side. Stella, I think the crime rate is low because of the law. After all we know about the 'I never ask for it' campaign.

    Maria, harassments in public places is commonly referred to as eve-teasing in India and a few other southasian countries. Nearly ten years back, Jasmeen Patheja, as part of her academic project, collected clothes that women wore when they were harassed in public places. Because the common misconception is that if you 'properly cover' yourself you won't be harassed. Her project proved the myth wrong.

    And a muslim girl once told me that 'burqa or not, guys still touch, brush against you and whatnot, especially in public transportation'. The girls whom I have known, wore the burqa voluntarily, even though the families had given the freedom of not wearing it if they chose to. They saw it a as a religious and cultural identity. Some felt safe only if they wore it. But a few were equally comfortable wearing it as well as not wearing it. Even a highly placed lady mentioned that she quite likes wearing the burqa. But I don't know how the women who are forced by their families to wear it feel about it?

    I am sure someone in our group would be able to give more information.


  • Pinky pradhan
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Often such questions crossed my mind, especially when you see them clad in a burqa in a hot Delhi summer, where even wearing an extra clothing is unthinkable. When I posed this question to my Muslim female and male friends ( two of them were from Islamic countires) here are the answers I got:

    1. (hijab) I am wearing it on my own will, for i believe in my ancestors' wisdom.If they preambled that we should wear it, then there must be thousands of years wisdom. Who am i to defy it?
    2. (burqa) I am a 'pak' (pure) woman, and I see nothing wrong in it. Infact , some of those shamless girls who don't wear should be seriously admonished. ( She is a mother of two: and both her daughtes age (9) and (12) have started wearing it.
    3. From a male - I strongly impose wearing of burqa. Don't you see the kind of crime happening in the country. I have a sister and she is pure and innocent, I want her to be protected from all the evils.

    Offcourse there are non-conformist types, who don't wear either and have the audacity to ask questions, sadly they and their family members are ostracised for their this defiant behaviour.

  • Maria
    Sep 16, 2011
    Sep 16, 2011

    Very interesting information is arising from this discussion, thank you girls.

    I find it worth referring to how the women point of view on themselves and other women changes according to wearing or non wearing it. As far as I understand, it seems women are led to identify with and judge themselves based on what they wear. Social pressure has a heavy role in it all, I think.

    Pinky, the friend of yours who said "I am a pak woman", it would be interesting to know whether she feels pure regardless of her clothes or is burqa what makes her feel that way?

    So far it seems to me opinions and positions are multiple within the very Islamic culture itself, which is good. Somehow, it explains the confusion made outside Islamic countries by media and public information. Yet, correct me if I am wrong, the risk is that since there is not a univocal view, being so delicate a subject, burqua can be easily turned in a reason for opposition in countries which are not familiar with it.

    For example, here we have an old law according to which one cannot appear in public areas with the face covered. Some months ago a woman wearing burqua was fined. Reactions were many. Me and many others read it as a justification to a racist action. Others appealed for the law.

    I would like to see governments working hard for integration and understanding, instead of boosting ideal and moral conflicts but the road proves long and tough.

    Let's keep speaking out!