When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it's not about liberating her, but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. It's not about the burqa. It's about the coercion. Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one. Viewing gender in this way, shorn of social, political and economic context, makes it an issue of identity, a battle of props and costumes. It is what allowed the US government to use western feminist groups as moral cover when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Afghan women were (and are) in terrible trouble under the Taliban. But dropping daisy-cutters on them was not going to solve their problems.
Afghans think the burqa is a permanent part of culture. But, if you bring it to Europe, how would people react? Afghanistan doesn't want to change its culture, but it can change, all the time. So why are Afghans giving so much value to it? The burqa is not natural. It's not human nature.
I have always used the burqa because men are using the burqa in the name of culture and religion to take freedom from women. Women are alive, they have their own wishes and desires, but all the time they have to sacrifice that. They are a kind of skeleton, which doesn't have muscles. They're just breathing, like a kind of puppet that barely exists. If women spoke for their rights, they were beaten by their husbands. So they don't have a voice. They lose their voices and their wishes and their happiness.
As a woman and as a feminist, I am very well aware of how women have been oppressed and segregated for a thousand of years and I bristle at the fact in 21 century Australia women are still being kept out of public life and I'm sorry, when you wear a burqa you cannot attribute to society as much as you can without it.
For the jihadists, Muslim women who embrace Western mores, and wear tight jeans or mini skirts, are hated symbols of corruption that need to be eradicated. For the ideological mentors of Breivik, a similar disturbance comes from the burqa, which is banned in France and Belgium, partly thanks to their efforts.
The draconian prohibitions of the Taliban years and the gains Afghan women have achieved since the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001 are now well known and often cited: Today, Afghans lucky enough to live in secure regions can go to school, women may work in offices, and the burqa is no longer mandatory.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, 'All right! You got it. You figured me out. I'm not pretty. I'm not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I'll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see.' But then I think, F*** that ... I am a woman with thoughts and questions and s*** to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story - I will.
When I was 12 my brother told me I had to wear the burqa, but I really wanted to play, because I was a child. It's an age you want to play outside and have a good time. And they told me I had to wear it or I couldn't leave the home. I felt it was controlling me, because when I wore it I felt I wasn't a child anymore.
The situation of women living in Islam-stricken societies and under Islamic laws is the outrage of the 21st century. Burqa-clad and veiled women and girls, beheadings, stoning to death, floggings, child sexual abuse in the name of marriage and sexual apartheid are only the most brutal and visible aspects of women's rightlessness and third class citizen status in the Middle East
Since the 1950s (until the early 1990s), girls in Kabul and other cities attended schools. Half of university students were women, and women made up 40 percent of Afghanistan's doctors, 70 percent of its teachers and 30 percent of its civil servants. A small number of women even held important political posts as members of Parliament and judges. Most women did not wear the burqa.
The chowdry, or burqa - the Saudi, North African, and Central Asian version of the head, face, and body shroud - is a sensory deprivation isolation chamber. It is claustrophobic, may lead to anxiety and depression, and reinforces a woman's already low self-esteem. It may also lead to vitamin D deficiency diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Sensory deprivation officially constitutes torture and is practiced as such in the world's prisons.
The jamaat was an almost silly mish-mash of people: Rude Dawud's pork-pie hat poking up here, a jalab-and-turban there, Jehangir's big Mohawk rising from a sea of kufis, Amazing Ayyub still with no shirt, girls scattered throughout "" some in hejab, some not and Rabeya in punk-patched burqa doing her thing. But in its randomness it was gorgeous, reflecting an Islam I felt could not happen anywhere else ... If Islam was to be saved, it would be saved by the crazy ones: Jehangir and Rabeya and Fasiq and Dawud and Ayyub and even Umar.
Michael Muhammad Knight
The jamaat was an almost silly mish-mash of people: Rude Dawud's pork-pie hat poking up here, a jalab-and-turban there, Jehangir's big Mohawk rising from a sea of kufis, Amazing Ayyub still with no shirt, girls scattered throughout - some in hejab, some not and Rabeya in punk-patched burqa doing her thing. But in its randomness it was gorgeous, reflecting an Islam I felt could not happen anywhere else... If Islam was to be saved, it would be saved by the crazy ones: Jehangir and Rabeya and Fasiq and Dawud and Ayyub and even Umar.
Michael Muhammad Knight
There was just enough room for the tonga to get through among the bullock-carts, rickshaws, cycles and pedestrians who thronged both the road and the pavement-which they shared with barbers plying their trade out of doors, fortune-tellers, flimsy tea-stalls, vegetable-stands, monkey-trainers, ear-cleaners, pickpockets, stray cattle, the odd sleepy policeman sauntering along in faded khaki, sweat-soaked men carrying impossible loads of copper, steel rods, glass or scrap paper on their backs as they yelled 'Look out! Look out!' in voices that somehow pierced though the din, shops of brassware and cloth (the owners attempting with shouts and gestures to entice uncertain shoppers in), the small carved stone entrance of the Tinny Tots (English Medium) School which opened out onto the courtyard of the reconverted haveli of a bankrupt aristocrat, and beggars-young and old, aggressive and meek, leprous, maimed or blinded-who would quietly invade Nabiganj as evening fell, attempting to avoid the police as they worked the queues in front of the cinema-halls. Crows cawed, small boys in rags rushed around on errands (one balancing six small dirty glasses of tea on a cheap tin tray as he weaved through the crowd) monkeys chattered in and bounded about a great shivering-leafed pipal tree and tried to raid unwary customers as they left the well-guarded fruit-stand, women shuffled along in anonymous burqas or bright saris, with or without their menfolk, a few students from the university lounging around a chaat-stand shouted at each other from a foot away either out of habit or in order to be heard, mangy dogs snapped and were kicked, skeletal cats mewed and were stoned, and flies settled everywhere: on heaps of foetid, rotting rubbish, on the uncovered sweets at the sweetseller's in whose huge curved pans of ghee sizzled delicioius jalebis, on the faces of the sari-clad but not the burqa-clad women, and on the horse's nostrils as he shook his blinkered head and tried to forge his way through Old Brahmpur in the direction of the Barsaat Mahal.