The Burqa: Limiting Women’s Power and Autonomy

With the French voting on the “burqa ban” next week, I’m republishing my first post from BroadBlogs, originally published July 20, 2010

As European countries step up to ban the burqa, many protesters don’t understand that the burqa is neither a religious requirement nor a simple cultural costume. The burqa is about limiting women’s autonomy and power.

The Koran only asks women to be modest and to veil their breasts (24:30 31).

If the burqa is not a religious requirement, how did it arise? Let’s take a look at how covering affects women in the countries in which it is law, which points to its intent.

In Saudi Arabia women cannot drive because they cannot get a driver’s license (no face picture for identity purposes).

Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al-Abaican recently declared that women should give breast milk to their male drivers so that they can symbolically become their sons. Not sure that this means breastfeeding, which would neither enhance modesty nor separate the sexes. But it would keep non-lactating women from driving. (Or could they feed their drivers formula?) Women who cannot afford drivers are pretty much doomed to stay close to home.

Reflecting their lack of power, Saudi women make up only 5% of the workforce. Maybe it’s hard to get to work? This low number reflects a social norm that women’s place is in the home, leaving the larger society largely safe from their influence.

In Afghanistan, women political candidates cannot speak or give speeches face-to-face in mixed company. If there is enough money for campaign posters, a burqa amidst men’s faces would certainly stand out, I suppose. Meanwhile, the bulk of Taliban-style culture is designed to limit women’s power, whether keeping them from venturing outside the house or keeping them from education and work.

The Burqa is not a fashion statement. It is not a religious requirement, so it cannot be defended on grounds of religious rights. It is not really about morality. Why should free societies support the lack of freedom and power that the burqa was intended to create?

Georgia Platts

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4 Responses

  1. Very good point Georgia, for most of us, I think thought it was a religious edict that they be covered from head to toe.

    I know the Bible asks women to cover their heads and we used to have to wear hats in church. Still have to in Rome.

    In our Black churches our sisters of color still wear the most beautiful and elaborate hats as a way to cover our heads. The veil of a bride also is from the Bible– a religious covering.

    I never felt It was never meant to keep women down or seperated from the rest of society and as a child I remember the song about our Easter Bonnets so if anything — the hats celebrated women’s beauty.

  2. “It is not a religious requirement, so it cannot be defended on grounds of religious rights”.

    Here we go again…the veiling of women is to Islam as the Yankees are to NY.
    The countries were it is law are Islamic countries.
    In Saudi Arabia women wear the Abaya. If you have every been to Saudi Arabia, on the plane
    women will begin to disappear under the Abaya. The “religious police” enforce the Islamic Shariah laws in the kingdom.
    Now I know they use the “all women are “expected” to veil” but trust me it is “demanded”
    I have many photos of women being beat by the “religious police” for not doing what is “expected” in Islamic countries.
    And again…you are incorrect about what the Qur’an factually states.
    Qur’an (24:31) – “And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known.” 

    The woman is not only supposed to cover herself, except with relatives, but to look down, so as to avoid making eye-contact with men. Her shoes can not make sounds less it drive men wild.

    You talk about women “giving men milk” and you try to figure out exactly what that means and then conclude its discriminating “because it forces
    non-lactating women from driving. (Or could they feed their drivers formula?) Women who cannot afford drivers are pretty much doomed to stay close to home.”
    How about concluding that in 2010 that’s just plain demented. Regardless of whether its formula or breast milk.
    How about women ARE doomed.

    “Meanwhile, the bulk of Taliban-style culture is designed to limit women’s power, whether keeping them from venturing outside the house or keeping them from education and work.”

    “Taliban-style culture is designed”
    How sweet that sounds.
    Never heard anyone refer to “Taliban-style culture”.
    Those of us who speak for women rights refer to the Taliban as Islamic Terrorists…as they have designed a style all their own..they terrorize women as well as Americans.

  3. What cannot be denied credibly, however, is that Shariah is firmly rooted in Islam’s doctrinal texts, and it is favored by influential Islamic commentators, institutions, traditions and academic centers. For more than a half-century, moreover, Shariah Islam has been financed lavishly and propagated by Islamic governmental entities (particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Organization of the Islamic Conference) through the offices of disciplined international organizations, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood.

    more:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/14/needed-a-second-opinion-on-shariah/

    Hi Barbara, thought you might like this article. Islam sucks.

  4. Alittle “Taliban-style culture”

    “A denier of the veil is an Infidel and an unveiled woman
    Is lewd” Ayatollah Asif Mohensi

    1 women must not perfume themselves
    2 not wear adorning clothes
    3 not wear thin clothes
    4 not wear tight clothes
    5 MUST COVER THEIR INTIRE BODIES
    6not resemble mens clothing
    7 Muslim women should not resemble Non Muslim
    Women
    8 foot ornaments must not make sounds
    9 must not wear sound producing garments
    10 must not walk in the middle of the street
    11 must not go out of their houses without their
    Husbands permission
    12 must not speak to stranger men
    13 if it is neccessary for women to talk they must
    lower their voice and without laughter
    14 they must not look at stranger
    15 must not mix with strangers
    Strangers men other than husband.
    Pick up my friend. Malalai Joya book
    A woman among warlords

    Thanks for that link Persephone

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