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Niqab-More Than Mere Eye-Sores


My dislike of organized religions is not news. Nor is my inherent respect for personal choice, mind. But try as I might, I cannot easily conceal my disgust for the niqāb (also known sometimes as the burqa) - not even to respect "freedom of choice" or "freedom of religion".

In the last five years or so, I have noticed a lot more niqāb-clad women out-and-about in Melbourne. Whether the phenomenon is due to the sharp intake of (African/Balkan) refugees in the past few years and/or the (in)direct result of the One Superpower's stance on the Iraq/Afghanistan War(s), I know not. All I can say from an interested (and somewhat worried + quite-annoyed) atheist observer's viewpoint is that, I see a heck of a lot more of such women these days (worse still, some are evidently prepubescent girls). And, it disturbs me. A lot.

Although I am not supportive of outward/blatant religious fervour (I believe spiritual belief is personal; a relationship that is private between the Universe or "God" and, the individual), I find the hijab relatively acceptable. Particularly in light of the general Islamic argument that the hijab serves Muslim women well enough in not only ensuring modesty and privacy (supposedly by concealing from lusty eyes, what Islam considers to be one of the most "erotic" parts of women - the hair), but also in identifying them to the public that they are "devout Muslims". Whatever that means, you know.

Given that the hijab does the "job" well enough from the religious viewpoint, one is tempted to conclude that niqāb-wearing thusly stems from antiquated views of men as well as of women. No? Indeed, it even smacks of misogynism.

As Faith Freedom is fond of implying: Do they consider women walking vaginas? [Do excuse the crudity, I am after all, paraphrasing.] But what I am even more interested in are these (perhaps premature and unfair) conclusions of my own:

1. Are all men sexual predators who cannot encounter any woman without wanting to rape her?

2. Supposing that 1 is true (and I vehemently disagree), why then are women made almost-solely responsible for keeping potential male (sexual) predators at bay?

3. Are all men animals?

4. Is daily life really so entirely fixated on sexual proclivity?

5. Are not people who prey on mere children (remember, some girls do wear the niqāb) a.k.a. paedophiles?

6. Is not the very definition of "not drawing attention to oneself", entirely lost on niqāb-wearing women outside of Muslim countries (i.e. precisely because they are comparatively rare)?

7. Why have people not heeded to the ample research on human psychology thus far that, "deprivation" of any kind solves no problems and indeed, paradoxically exacerbates the core issues?

I don't have many answers. All I can think of right now is how terribly fortunate I was to have been born into a culture that understands the need to adapt to modernity via means that "engage" people of all walks of life (and certainly one's sex/sexuality is rarely an impediment or indeed, a factor of concern), rather than one that promotes "disengagement" (of people/s).

It's a bit like that horrid cliché people deeming themselves "in love" passionately urge their lover, "...don't ever change!"

If there is no change, there surely can be no (spiritual) progress. And, what would be the meaning of such a life, I wonder?

Labels: Culture, Ethics, Life, Politics, Rant, Religion, Society

Posted at Thursday, May 17, 2007



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