What women ‘choose’ to wear…

…continues to be everybody’s business.

‘Iranian sports bodies have now agreed the girls can wear caps that cover their hair but not their necks. The Iranian girls’ football team is to be allowed to play in the Youth Olympics.’ […]
In France those who force women to wear burka would be punished. […]
Belgium became Europe’s first country to vote for a ban on the full Islamic veil or burqa. […]
Burqua or Niquab have no place in Denmark. [link]
“…women’s rights and freedom of religion – what happens when they appear to collide? ”

The burka is to be banned. Those agents of medievalism who were hitherto forcing Canada’s Muslims into a medieval corner of segregation and isolation, have been challenged. – Tarek Fatah. [Read more]

Burka is often compared to the Bikini. Feminists feel both objectify women. Fundamentalists have strong opinions on both.

Some  people see the bikini as a threat to their culture.

Governments have considered the idea of banning the bikini. ( Another example, here)

For some jeans are unacceptable, some others think a sari is immodest, ‘in Nagaland where women remain topless in some villages. Well no rapes take place there and no eve teasing either,’ (Click here to read the article.)

No matter what a woman chooses to wear, somebody has a problem.

Burka as a choice.

Some feel a Muslim woman has the right to choose to wear a burka.

I recently chanced upon Tarek Fatah’s comment on this picture on Face Book.

Tarek Fatah: Imagine, there are liberal feminists in the west who defend the right of a woman to live under this horrid and cruel mobile prison.

Is this really about women’s choices?

Around 1987, BJP insisted, that if a widow volunteers to burn herself on her husband’s pyre, her choice should be respected.

The same voices object to women ‘choosing‘ to wear jeans, or women  ‘choosing‘ to marry out of community. It seems choosing to be burnt alive is about the only choice women should have.

Tarek Fatah, (Canada) says,

“The Canada I came to with my wife and daughters should not be a haven  for a medieval, misogynist doctrine that traps women under the guise of  liberalism and choice.” [Read more]

It’s true that liberal feminists support the Burka in the west.

There is also a concern that this  ban might set a precedence of the government encroaching on citizens’ civil rights.

In India those who oppose the burka, also object to  tight jeans and spaghetti straps. They might change their minds when they read this news.

Jury acquitted Nicholas Gonzalez because they felt, ‘Rape of woman in skinny jeans ‘not possible’.

Although, ‘Many folks have pointed out that it’s patently stupid to assert that skinny jeans cannot be removed without cooperation, and then even cooperation in removing clothing does not indicate consent‘.

Should women trust the Jury?

There are many who believe that women should choose to wear clothes  that guarantee not to provoke a helpless rapist to ‘offend their modesty‘.

This was impossible until recently. Crimes against women were committed, no matter what they wore.

But now I am sure the jury of six men and six women would vouch for the safety of skinny jeans?

[Note: The post became too long, I deleted some quotes to trim it a little. ]

Related posts:

The way a woman dresses…
What do modest women have that their ‘immodest’ sisters don’t?
The art of not being provocative.
Provocatively dressed.
She does not invite it.


79 thoughts on “What women ‘choose’ to wear…

  1. I object to men having facial hair. In fact I hate it and feel it is barbaric. I think I need to move a resolution to have things banned
    1. Facial hair for men
    2. Men scratching their ahem! private parts in public
    3. Men ogling at women or making obscene gestures to them
    4. Men making any sort of sweeping judgements about women based on attire and lipsticks
    5. Men expecting women to work the whole day at office and then wait on them hand and foot at home (when they both get home at the same time)

    When this resolution gets passed, I am willing to sit and give their objections any kind of patient hearing


  2. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that burqa is mostly forced on women.False.

    Most muslim women wear it out of their own free will

    Read here in my blog:


    A quote from MY post above:

    “”””In India , many hindu families force their jeans/skirts wearing daughters/daughter-in-laws to wear the saree or salwars. So sould we ban Saree and Salwars too?????“”””


    Me – I agree, and in the end it should be something the wearer chooses. But I feel saris and salwars do not stop women from interacting – maybe burka can be more accurately compared with ghunghat or purdah.
    There are many versions of this story of a newly married woman, bundled in heavy sari and ghunghat, not allowed to show her face to older male relatives, being escorted by her father in law, and she heard a male voice say, “Come.” She followed – and was never heard of again.

    But I know of Muslim women who do not like wearing burka but have to, just like Hindu women who do not like to to wear a sari but have to. I have blogged about it (t about the sari being forced ) here, https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/the-way-a-woman-dresses/


    • The hijab debate is hot! But, I really do not understand why?
      I know women from very progressive and modern families who wear the hijab out of their own free will. Its not imposed and they just feel more comfortable in that wear…and i see no reason whatsoever why anybody should have any objection.

      Each to his/her own free will. If I can wear a bikini out of my will why cannot my neighbor wear a hijab out of her own free will? I am as much against the people who force women to wear a hijab as those who oppose and dictate that women should not wear a hijab!

      And that also reminds me of what i read somewhere – The outfit (black habit) that a nun wears from top to botttom is not questioned and is respected, but on the other hand the hijab is seen as a form of repression and we are wary of women who wear it! Why?

      Anyway, we have so many useless people in the world, who have nothing better to do, than to make idiotic rules about how society and especially women should behave.


  3. Well there are enough jobless people in this world, who waste time on these things…It is just irritating if you ask me, time they grow up and see that they have a life to live and that there are better things to do….
    But it is the system!? *sigh

    Me – True… *Sigh*


  4. Well… in Europe the burqa/veil and cartoons… are rolled out once diversionary topics are required.

    Not all women who don the burqa or the veil are forced to do so… it is a cultural thing. But then the Western world do not want to know it… or choose to ignore…

    P.S. Staying with Iran… here is an ‘interesting’ observation made by an Iranian cleric… which is: Women are to blame for earthquakes.

    According to him… “Women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity are to blame for earthquakes.”

    Read the full story at: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/04/20/iran.promiscuity.earthquakes/index.html

    Me – LOL Roshmi, I blogged and tweeted about the earthquakes 🙂
    And Tarek Fatah seems to be addressing women who choose to willingly wear the burka. I have not heard any other male voice speaking against burka.


  5. its all about controlling………..everything , controlling int he name of religion, int he name of family honor, in the name of motherhood…..in the name of rapist……we have a long long way to go


  6. It seems to me that it is high time we stopped measuring the level of development of a nation by its per capita income. It makes more sense to measure it by the degree of freedom it ensures to each and every individual resident there, irrespective of age, gender or anything else. Freedom to think, freedom to act, freedom to be.

    Me – That’s how it should be Sunita!!! Never gave it a thought before!!!


  7. Its time people come out of all these ‘concepts’ of religion, caste, creed and breed and wear what they want to wear. wtf, its YOU who decide what you wear, not other fellas or the mulla or poojari in the nearby place of worship.

    Personal opinion: Burqa ought to be banned, no matter what people say. Just check the record for the incidence of osteoporosis and related conditions prevalent among the Muslim women who’re deprived of the Vitamin D from the Sun. Its time to open the eyes.

    And talking about clothes and rape, you may not believe what an Australian court has to say…

    Me – I have linked the last part of this post to this news Scorpiogenius. It seems skinny jeans are even better than ghunghat or burka is protecting a woman’s chastity.


    • if burqa causes osteoporosis then it can be said that bikini can cause skin cancer,it should also be banned.Most soft drinks cause diabetes and they shld also be banned.If we start banning such things because we do not like it there will not be any end

      Charakan – Can bikini really be compared to the burka?
      1. Women do not wear bikini in snow,
      2. or anywhere under any threat to life.
      3. Most women who wear bikini can stop doing so whenever they feel like. They always have that choice.


      • i was questioning the logic of Scorpiogenius in wanting to ban burqa because it can cause osteoporosis. Then those who favour burqa can find several health reasons for banning things they do not like. Will comment in detail later.


  8. What women ‘choose’ to wear…continues to be everybody’s business, except women’s. Often it begins with the family then community followed by the nations… The same men who vouch for saving the modesty of women of their communities will miss no chance to outrage that of the woman of the “other” community.

    Me – Yes this is what Tarek Fatah says. Covering up women doesn’t stop men from staring at other women. And also I feel the more women cover up the more men are curious about them – like in Pakizah – he falls in love with her foot under her burka. And in Saudi Arabia, they harass girls by sending them their numbers through blue tooth – not much different from street sexual harassment here in India.

    I think, no matter what place on earth some men will have some or the other excuse to rip the clothes off a woman’s back. If they fail to do so they’ll undress her with their gaze. I guess these folks have never tried to mentally dress up a woman…

    No matter what place on earth majority of women will have no reason to set their eyes on the beef cakes because majority of beef comes with ugly fat 🙂 . At times I wonder if women were to undress men with their gaze on a public square how it would be… Too much, oodles of ugly muffin tops… I guess scary…

    Me – LOL no, girlsguidetosurvival, just like women men also come in all shapes and sizes… take a look at the good looking JKG on my side bar 😆

    I guess their motto is: Cover them, bare them anyway scare them…

    Mention of Nagaland and north east brings to my mind the rapes committed by military. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/sep2004/mani-s15.shtml The communities that were isolated and were far off from the main land were the safer for women but the inroads made by mainland culture has really rubbed on them. Dowry and gender discrimination are on rise in the north eastern states too.


    • IHM,

      The JKG on your sidebar is already taken by so many of you and is only vicarious. Some women would like beef cake that is more relatable and real (in an arm’s reach) 🙂 . Too many sand bags around too little eye tonic. Oh man, am I enjoying this objectification of beefy. La haul…

      Somebody is honkering ower the skinny jeans for him/her:

      1. what about the threat of violence – holding gun/knife to the person; harming her dear ones…

      2. consent under duress… intoxication, falsification of information, gas lighting- you said ‘yes’ only you don’t remember it now

      3. trauma/fear leading to total shut out of all faculties/immobilization

      Anyone any thoughts on making clothing optional??? that will resolve a lot of trouble in the world.


  9. I’m secretly very happy that the Burqa has been banned in some countries and I fully support the ban. I’ve spent some years in Middle east and have seen plenty of women in Burqas even in 45 degrees plus weather. It’s sheer torture I say. And the way they treat the women is atrocious and makes me think maybe Indian men aren’t that bad either. I cannot imagine myself clothed in heavy black from head to toe in the summer heat. Add to that full head coverings and gloves in black. It’s crazy. I have no idea what the men want to signify with their women covered in those sort of clothes from head to toe in that hot weather.

    Me – Although I am not sure of what the outcome would be – I see this as not much different from the ban on widow burning or polygamy amongst Hindus. I liked Tarek Fatah’s way of expressing his views on this.


  10. I agree with you…Banning burqas infringes on bedrock freedoms…A person should be able to choose what he or she wants to wear…

    There are two reasons for the French ban a) the French concept of a secular society is based on laïcité (a core part of the constitution), connoting the complete separation of the Church (religion) and State and b) Security…

    The French and the French government are in love with the idea of laïcité and feel that by banning religious symbols and veils they are only trying to integrate Muslims into their idea of a secular society…They believe that since laïcité is value free, Muslims will fare better if they keep their religion private…They are wrong…The concept of laïcité is heavily value laden because the values that are observed today come directly from the French Revolution and its attempt to use rational constructivism to reform society… Roman Catholicism has given way to Reason…One value gone, another one in…

    I (and many others) feel that instead of promoting freedom of thought and freedom of religion, laïcité actually prevents the believer from observing his or her religion…Therefore, it actually infringes on people’s religious freedom…

    What will the ban do? It will only affect Muslim girls’ right to education…

    As for security, yes, burqas do hide identities…Instead of banning the burqa, the government should have enacted a law which gives policemen the right to ask a veiled woman to reveal her face to ensure she is who she claims to be…

    Personally, I need to see someone’s face when I talk to them or I find it intimidating…

    Me – Sraboney I am not sure how I feel. Do take note of Tarek Fatah’s opinions. I got to learn of him from that comment I have quoted, and later found more including this,
    Fatah is the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Fatah’s advocacy for gay rights, a separation of religion and state, opposition to Sharia law, and advocacy for a “liberal, progressive form” of Islam have been met with considerable criticism from various Canadian Muslim groups, such as the Canadian Islamic Congress.


  11. P.S. Although I feel people should be allowed to wear what they want to, I also feel that burqas are more often that not ‘forced’ on women…Many of them say they wear one out of choice, but as I see it, this choice if not free…In conservative Muslim families, women are brain-washed into thinking that burqas are good for them etc. and so when they wear one, they feel that they are wearing it because they want to…

    Me- Sraboney when they defended a woman’s right to choose to burn on her dead husband’s pyre (as late as in 1987) – they also talked about ‘choosing’. (linked in the post)
    According to Tarek, women are made to feel their right to choose is being encroached upon when burka is banned. He feels liberal feminists should think about how much of a choice this really is.


  12. IHM, I know I’ve contradicted myself…I feel that the government has no right to ban what one can wear and what one cannot…I also believe that burqas are a way of subjugating women but that doesn’t mean that I want a law banning them…But then we are talking about France which believes in laïcité…I just want to ask Sarkozy one question: if the government want’s religion to be kept private, why is Christmas day a holiday?

    Me – I am still unsure about my views of banning burqua – one feeling is this might lead to more such bans. I am suspicious of all bans. BUT we did ban female infanticide, child marriage and widow burning. It might be a good idea.


    • Hope u dont mind i intervene here and try to summarise my position. I fully agree with Bones here. Now do not compare burqa banning by western countries with Sati or Hindu polygamy. Sati and Hindu polygamy was banned following mass movements of progressive Hindus . That ban was not imposed on unwilling Hindus by Muslim rulers. of India. In Europe the ban is imposed on Muslim immigrants white European christians and is viewed as cultural intolerance. In Turkey a popular secular Govt banned head scarves on a society which was not ready for it. When the secular Govt became autocratic and unpopular wearing head scarves became a show of protest . This may happen in Europe too.

      Burqa whether imposed or voluntary is a sign of female oppression and should be fought ideologically in the minds of muslim women so that they get liberated enough to get out of it. Banning it especially by a Govt dominated by another race and religion can be counter productive and help the Islamic fundamentalists.

      An issue in a Kerala school is making headlines here. A christian management forcefully gave TC to a student for wearing hijab.There were protests from all and the Islamists are using this to start a hijab movement. Finally we may see more gender discrimination in dressing than before. Unless a critical mass of ppl affected are For a reform ,reform measures imposed by the Govt will not work and if forcefully implemented become counter productive.

      Me – I agree… makes a lot of sense!!!
      Though I also feel those who were forced to wear it and the younger ones might heave a sigh of relief…


  13. With regard to having the freedom to burn oneself, I’m not sure it should be allowed. After all, if people force the woman to be burned, they can always later claim she did it on her own. Of course, suicide is also against the law (It shouldn’t be. People have the right to take their own life. What’re you gonna do when you catch them? Hang them?)

    About the skinny jeans thing, my wife and I discussed it. Under the following conditions:

    1. Really skinny jeans
    2. Just one man and one woman (both adults and healthy – mentally and physically)
    3. No wounds or bruises given to the woman (ie. Not beaten senseless)
    4. No tying up
    5. Man isn’t a superman
    6. No wounds on the MAN – woman didn’t scratch, headbutt, kick, bite etc..

    We decided it’s indeed impossible to remove the jeans. I don’t know what other women feel about this, but it should be an interesting argument 😀

    Me – The woman was 42 kgs. No idea bout the man. They have not mentioned anything else.


    • @ Bhagwad –
      Prateek shared this link, http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/man-acquitted-in-skinnyjean-rape-case-loses-bid-for-costs-20100504-u75v.html

      “But the District Court judge, Penelope Hock, yesterday described as ”compelling”, medical evidence suggesting the 24-year-old woman had been sexually assaulted. Mr Gonzalez, 23, was on Friday acquitted of having vaginal and anal intercourse without the consent of the woman on April 9, 2008.”
      Dr Rosemary Isaacs found ‘evidence of trauma’ on the victim’s body.


      • Interesting points. Of course, rape can still be possible after the woman removed her jeans with consent. But from what I understand, that wasn’t the claim the woman made.

        On a related note, jeans aren’t a “chastity belt” – but of course, chastity belts can’t be removed with or without cooperation.

        Of course, as one of the articles says “Any piece of clothing can be removed with enough force.” But again, the can the force be applied in such a way that no bruises or marks are found on either person in the struggle?

        I’m trying to put myself in a woman’s shoes here and I think it would be extremely difficult (shouldn’t say impossible!) for a guy to take my skinny jeans off without me being able to at least biff him a good one, get a bite in, or scar his face.

        All this is of course assuming no weapon was used, no emotional coercion, blackmail, restraining equipment and no drugs. Given these circumstances as well as the general presumption of innocent until proven guilty, I think it’s not out of the question to call the woman’s claims into doubt here.


        • “it would be extremely difficult (shouldn’t say impossible!) for a guy to take my skinny jeans off without me being able to at least biff him a good one, get a bite in, or scar his face.”

          When you say that, have you taken into factor that the reaction of people differ in situations?? Some are too numb with shock and would put up no resistance (even without any threatening weapon to their heads), others may fight but give up easily, still others will not give up but fight and biff, scar or bite like you say you would. But one thing is for sure, reactions are NEVER uniform and differ from person to person. Some are just incapable of the biff, scratch, bite routine, but that does not make them any less of a victim.


    • 1. Jeans can be removed by showing a knife or gun or other threats
      2. Removing jeans =/= I am ready and willing for anything you want.


  14. You said it correctly in the starting IHM, What Woman wears continues to be everybody’s business..and as Vishes said there are lotsa empty minded people around,who are interested in all this stuff…East or West its never gonna change


  15. I think the ban on burka is more from security reasons. But really, I am so bored of “what women wear” topic. I don’t know why everybody makes it their business. I know that in many small towns, even in all girls college the girls are made to follow “no jeans and skirts” rule!


    • That was true for my college in Mangalore, tomboymom, over 15 years go. Luckily they started that rule when we were in Final Year, so we’d had a few years of freedom till then. Guess why the rule was put in place? Because some girls had eloped! Gah!


      • @starsinmyeyes, In 1975-76, in the same Mangalore, we wore trousers and short tops and short skirts (midi skirts had not yet made an appearance) to college! I swear no one ever told us how long our tops should be like it is happening in colleges today. And I don’t remember a single incident of eve-teasing either!

        Me – I agree Shail. I have seen this wave of right wing instructions on what women should wear sweep the country around 1990s when my kids schools started ‘salwar kurta’ from class VI. Boys had no restrictions. We wore skirts four fingers above the knee length – never gave a thought to it, but now in my kids schools teachers sound weird noticing skirt lengths and which girl is talking to which boy kind of stuff. I even met the principal in one school and assured her I wanted my kids to not be given such ridiculous suggestions (like if they talk to a boy they must be in love with them) – she started talking about trusting our kids! Trust??


        • @Shail: The rule is still in place in my old college, and whenever I visit Mangalore, I see young college-going women dressed in dowdy clothes that cover everything, their very body language is defeated and cowed…and I think of the free-spirited “hep” girls we were 15 years ago in the same college…is this progress or regression?

          And IHM: even in my kids school in Bangalore skirt lengths are watched carefully.


  16. I like the way you have brought out the global picture of the control n ownership of women’s dress. Strange that women’s happiness, education, independence, safety and security is not everybody’s business too. 😦

    Recently a commenter left a comment on my blog saying that a woman dressed immodestly had no standing to address or challenge molestation and rape. When I replied saying modesty is defined differently by everyone, she quoted this as a justification:

    Re women and dress, there’s a quote by G.K. Chesterton that says it all, and which is every bit as relevant today as it was at the turn of the century when he said it:
    “All the time the aristocratic Suffragette is vehemently asserting that she will no longer be a toy, a doll, a dancing-girl, a merely ornamental thing, a pleasure, she is dressing more and more as if that were exactly what she was.”

    I found it insulting, what do you think??

    Me – Starsinmyeyes now she can choose what she wants to be. Her life need not depend on beautiful she was born or became, but if she does want to be a doll, that’s her choice. I feel if we can use our brains like an asset, why not our bodies? I feel so long as there is no exploitation or compulsion, it’s fine.


  17. There is nothing hotter than the debate on what women choose to wear. it seems to be everybody’s business. Why can’t the thekedars of the so called social system and moral values do something better than making women a target for their time pass ?

    A well written post as always. will come back again.


  18. ‘Around 1987, BJP insisted, that if a widow volunteers to burn herself on her husband’s pyre, her choice should be respected.

    The same voices object to women ‘choosing‘ to wear jeans, or women ‘choosing‘ to marry out of community. It seems choosing to be burnt alive is about the only choice women should have.’

    The BJP’s view about ‘Sati’ shows what type of persons they are. The people are not any better than the ‘muslim’ fanatics who want their women to cover their whole body with burkha.

    My relative was in Riyadh for sometime and she says that most of the women over there prefer burkhas. She too was wearing them happily, it seems. She was commenting laughingly that she can wear burkha on top of any old dress and go out!

    Thank god, it is not so bad, here, in our cities at least. I see churidaar as a common dress even in our Tamilnadu villages, nowadays. Changes are coming here, IHM.


  19. I feel wearing a burqua or the veil is a choice best left on those who wear it. Working in a land where veil clad women are common, I have come to respect their decision. Most of them are a personal choice while others do it for their family. That in no way limits their education or interaction with others…
    So I am sure that noone has the right to ban it but the women who wear it…


  20. I was surprised to read that BJP supported Sati until 1987!
    I have time and again supported that party, didn’t know it has this sort of history!

    How low can a party stoop???

    Me – Click on the link Janaki. This is when they have a large number of women members. Last year, I think it was Uma Bharti in a TV show – she was trying to say that the girls in that pub in Managalore should not have been there and the men were only trying to do what they felt was for the good of those girls. They seem to forget they have female voters too. Karanata CM spoke of Pub and Mall culture when asked what he thought of the men who allegedly molested those girls – all seen by a nation on national television. Didn’t they wonder this might give any criminal a free license to teach a girl what might happen to her if she forgets her culture?
    Some of them are also against jeans for women. I think Joshi wanted jeans [only for women] banned in colleges, and a lot of colleges have listened to them too. I have read in many blogs about rules against jeans etc – when we were young we would not have believed such a rule was possible.


    • Janaki, where were you during this famous “lets burn the women on the cultural bon fire” era. I guess then most of India also missed on the Bhanwari Devi rape case and BJP state goverment and Sessions and high Court judgements


      BJP was in the state goverment when a jain muni raped a young monk’s mother in Bhinmal



      people should write to Uma Bharati about the naga Sadhus and the jain munis coming to the town with band and baja… Oh man, is it really an eye candy flaunting their culture in other cultural minorities. Lets have a vote on it.

      Thanks a lot, I am enjoying this every body’s business… This topic is always current…

      Desi Girl


  21. As you say, what a woman chooses to wear is everybody’s business. In any civilized society, I do feel that people need to have the freedom to choose what they can wear.

    Any attire, as far as it is not forced on a person, should be acceptable. As far as the choice is hers. A lot of times, these choices are formed out of social conditioning. People who believe that Sari is the only dress that becomes a woman, or for that matter preconceived notions of people sporting a particular form of attire. But then even then, personal choice needs to be respected.

    As for communication, a some parents in my daughter’s school wear a burkha, some leave their face exposed, others just have their eyes exposed, and I don’t know if it is subconscious or not, but I do find it difficult to strike a conversation with someone whose face I cannot see while we all seem to be perfectly fine with the women whose faces are exposed. And from the look of it, most others seem to have the same problem. The women who are completely covered, rarely enter a conversation with others… So I don’t know about communication, to be honest. This might just be me..

    As for that news that women in skinny jeans cannot be raped -that is so ridiculous! By that same standard, marital rape can never happen?


  22. i have heard many people say that it is because of social conditioning that muslim women choose to wear the hijab, and hence the social conditioning should be avoided.

    But, the same way, someone can object to Hindu women wearing the ‘bindi’, and finally there can even be a state where religion also gets banned .

    … so I feel social conditioning really should not be banned. So long as the hijab doesnt hurt someone else, it shouldn’t be opposed to.

    Am not able to fully express what I wish to , as am running very short of time w.r.t my college duties …..


  23. While I firmly believe in an individual’s freedom of choice, I feel the burqa and ghunghat/parda oppress women. Just from a practical point of view – the women don’t get enough oxygen to breathe. They’re constantly breathing recycled air. Then visibility goes down. Imagine a veil-burq / ghooghat what-have-you in front of your eyes. I’d be tripping and injuring myself constantly. Then the black colour. The dark colour absorbs heat and they’re usually made in synthetic fabric which makes it worse. Must play havoc with the body temperature. But banning it is not the solution. Things that come with a ‘culture tag’ have a strong hold on people’s emotions. There is need to handle it sensitively and raise public awareness. Maybe that would bring change. But again…its a maybe.

    Did the BJP really say that about Sati? Gosh! I know these fascists can sink very low. But to use the ideology of choice to justify murder?! Outside of enough!


  24. What women wear or not wear is such a big issue simply because at some level women are not thought of as humans in the “normal” discourse. Like children they need to be told what to wear and how to wear it.
    Similarly most restrictive laws are passed on issues of women’s choice- the decision to carry pregnancies full term or to abort. Or even what makes women “better” mothers. Because at some level, it is accepted that women cannot think for themselves, since they are perceived as mentally inferior or maybe not human enough. If these issues were as personal to men as they are for women, these norms would be totally different.

    Me – I agree.


  25. The ban on burqa is a progressive step for me. I believe that in most cases,in most countries, burqa is a dress code forced upon women. Only in few cases it is a choice of free women/liberated. And that is what I understand is the reason behind this ban

    To me case of Burqa is same as the case of Polygamy. It might be a choice of a few but in most cases it is a case of exploitation. So the government decides to ban burqa, like most governemnts have banned polygamy, to protect a majority of people, even if it means impinging upon freedom of a few.


  26. I just want to ask Sarkozy one question: if the government want’s religion to be kept private, why is Christmas day a holiday…

    Demographics of France
    Roman Catholic 49 %, unaffiliated (Theist, Agnostic or Atheist) 31%, Muslim 7.5%

    In France,Only Labour Day (May 1st) is a public holiday by statute. The rest of the holidays are granted by convention collective (agreement between employers’ and employees’ unions) or by agreement of the employer.

    I find nothing wrong here


  27. I agree with Ally’s comment, that at some level, men believe women need to be told what to do/how to do it. Its still very much a man’s world. And it will take ages to come out of that mould, if ever!


  28. Burqa is often compared to the Bikini. Feminists feel both objectify women. Fundamentalists have strong opinions on both…..

    Ok , for once lets accept that both burqa and bikni objectify a women.So what? When did objectification of somebody become wrong, if not forced upon that person? Doesn’t the models who want to be as skinny as a bamboo objectify themselves, even when it is totally voluntary? Do you want to ban all models and put them behind the bars?

    Should women trust the Jury?…

    The failure to believe in jury leads to a situation where either you don’t trust the particular jury or you dont trust the leagal system as a whole. In the first case, you can appeal to higher courts. If in the Seoul case, the verdict was turned in favour of accused, it is also possible that in this case the verdict will be turned in favor of victim. But if that doesn’t happen, will you question the 2nd jury also?

    And if you loose the trust in justice system itself, well then …….


  29. When my cousin wore a short skirt, his pictures were clicked citing that he was looking ‘cute’. When I first stepped out of home wearing ‘hot pants’, I passed a man who muttered ‘vulgar’!

    Lectures relating to family law in law school suddenly became very interesting to me when I read that a woman who “deliberately wears clothes which her husband dislikes” , can be said to commit cruelty which can in turn be cited as a valid ground of divorce!

    Apparently this is an apex court judgment – the pivotal seat of justice and fair play in our country!

    If one studies the thread of divorce cases, the most common ground taken up in 8 out of the 10 cases has to include one of the below mentioned ones:
    – “He is not chivalrous himself but expects me to stop wearing skirts and do puja every day.”
    – “She wanted too much independence, would always come late from work and wear clothes which my family didn’t like”

    According to a 2009 judgment of the Supreme Court if a mother-in-law gives constant sermons to the daughter-in-law or allegedly treated her shabbily by giving her used dress suits, it does not invite prosecution under Section 498A of the IPC, (bench of Justices S B Sinha and Cyriac Joseph)

    On 9 February 2008, remarks by the Chief Justice of Karnataka, Cyriac Joseph that immodest dressing was one reason for increasing crimes against women were reported in the press. The Honourable Chief Justice elaborated his statement. “Nowadays, women wear such kind of dresses even in temples and churches that when we go to places of worship, instead of meditating on God, we end up meditating on the person before us,” he said.

    Our constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression which the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court has time and again held to spill over creative forms of writing, songs, profession and dressing too and can only be curtailed for maintaining sanctity of public order, which is subjective and based on the whims of the government.

    The Barren Island is India’s dormant volcano visited by millions of tourists across the world, who all love to sunbathe in skimpy clothing during winters. I am awaiting further orders from the government esp. whether a husband can divorce a wife in fear of her dressing sense jeopardizing his life during a vacation!

    My case rests!


  30. I think women should have freedom of choice and it is true that no matter what you do ,there will be someone to raise an objection.I think each one should do what they feel is right for themselves. I loved the way you expressed yourself.


  31. My take as usual is same as yours. It is damn irritating to see all these restrictions only on one gender and people still think that the world is changing. Where? By banning everything?

    I don’t have a problem with burqa but I do not endorse anything that covers a person’s face. I won’t be comfortable talking to someone who insists on hiding behind a piece of cloth.


    • Having said that, it is still a reality that most women are conditioned to wear burqa and ghungat because of religion and culture whereas their men are free to wear any attire.


  32. Its so true – the title of the post.

    It shouldn’t really be that way but somehow I do end up feeling that a women is pressurised if she is wearing a ghunghat or burqa, specially if she is also covering her face. I have no probs if they have covered their heads, but I find it difficult to talk to someone who has their face covered..makes me uncomfortable. Same goes for women in Ghunghat. Can’t remember when was the last time I saw a woman in ghunghat though.

    IHM, I know two women, who didn’t wear a Burqa or even covered their heads..they were casual jeans and t-shirts wearing ladies with husband and children when they came to NZ, but after some years, one started wearing a burqa and the other wears a long scarf that covers her head and most of the upper body ! Isn’t that strange ? In India they went without burqa, but some years in a western country and they are in burqas. Since last two years, one of them has their now 8 yr old daughter cover her head and shoulders too with a black scarf and thats how she goes to school. Mind you their sons still wear jeans and shirts ! Even though I have known them for years, we have somehow lost that closeness we shared since they started doing that. Just made me uneasy. It felt that they are not the same easy going people that we had become friends with. Wonder why the sudden change, and I believe that its for worse. What other reason could there be if not external pressure from the local religious leaders ? Doesn’t it segregates them more rather than assimilating in the country they have chosen to live in and raise their family ?

    Having said that, really, hats off to people who can look past those religious symbols and reach to the person behind the ghunghat/burqa.

    I will try to find a link but a few months back, a judge here ruled regarding a women who was a witness in a case, refused to take the veil off for cultural reasons. Her brother was on trial and judge ruled that she will have to remove the veil cos the jury needs to see the expressions when she is talking. There was some debate here for banning the burqa altogether after that ruling.

    Me – I feel if a woman is forced, then such a ban would give her freedom from coercion… but then take a look at Charakan’s comment. When the mind is not convinced that this is repression, then women might feel like rebelling by wearing the burka. They might also feel more moral pressure from their families now – to prove their devotion towards their faith 😐


    • I think all over the World immigrants face an identity crisis and they try to cling on to something like religious practices to identify themselves.The religious leaders utilise this. When they dress differently they become more isolated and they become more and more socially confined to co religionists


  33. I think it barely ever makes a difference, what women ‘choose’ to wear… it always is the woman’s fault, never a man’s. If a woman gets raped, she was asking for it, wearing what she was! There are so many examples of it, and forget the fact that it is the men who make the issues blow tremendously out of proportions because they are no saints, but cannot believe otherwise either!

    I get vehement over these, and feel shackled and helpless that I cannot ever voice my feelings properly…

    Me – Guria being able to see that is this is wrong is a huge freedom from social-conditioning. You will not be burdened with undeserved guilt if you are accused of something you do not deserve. Hats off to you.
    Take a look at Shail’s comment, do you hear your thoughts echoing in her words?


  34. However forcefully it might be argued that ghunghat, burqa et al are worn of their own free will by some women, it is doubtful just how ‘free’ that ‘will’ really is and how much part conditioning is playing in it. For example though there is nothing that says I should not attend a traditional function in a salwar kameez, the ‘conditioned’ lot (men and women) feel I am committing sacrilege by not wearing a sari.

    I was told that I had gone ‘fashionably’ dressed to a funeral, all because I was in a salwar kameez, mind you, the simplest one you can imagine! 😛 These people are conditioned to believe only those in sari are ‘simple’ ‘good’ ‘traditional’ and so even when/if given a choice, they’d shake their head in horror and will not wear anything other than a sari. They are totally conditioned to believe that is the ONLY attire that makes a woman a woman. Besides most of them want to please their man, “He likes me in a sari” said with so much pride. So 24 hours in a sari!?! *rolls eyes* So where does the free will come in even in this simple example?? Let us first teach women to stand on their two feet and think for themselves. Lets first have gender equality. Lets take away pressure of family members, the influence of society and the hold of religion/culture. Then we might give a thought to this ‘free will’ that makes women use ghunghat/burqa.

    Me – As usual you say it so well Shail!!! I feel the same way.

    Its hilarious but sad, the way the whole world and its aunt is so concerned with what a woman should wear or should not, but leave the men alone.

    BTW, like Soli says, I wouldn’t be comfortable interacting with someone hiding behind a piece of cloth.


    • “However forcefully it might be argued that ghunghat, burqa et al are worn of their own free will by some women, it is doubtful just how ‘free’ that ‘will’ really is and how much part conditioning is playing in it.”


      I am assuming that u dont like “ghunghat or burqa”.

      Now u are “doubting” the “will” of those women who do not conform to your dressing sense.


      Plz remember you NOT liking burqa or “ghunghat” maybe also because of “conditioning” that u had.

      Also , i get the feeling that “many” women have a kind of idea that somehow “modern” dresses and styles are superior to traditional ones.

      Also comments like this are a kind of showing dis-respect to the choices made by other women.

      Take care.


      • @ Indian Pandit you say, //Also , i get the feeling that “many” women have a kind of idea that somehow “modern” dresses and styles are superior to traditional ones. //

        Ever wonder why?

        Most women who wear western or ‘modern’ clothes or salwar kurta are free to wear sarees or ghunghat. Most women who wear traditional clothing do not have this choice. (There maybe a exceptions.)

        Most women feel – only a lucky woman whose family respects her choices would be ‘allowed’ to get away with giving up traditional wear. Generally this is seen to imply – they have a say in other matters also.

        Those who think sarees are appropriate do not allow women in their family to wear salwar kurta once they get married. I have seen women walk in the winter rain and manage babies in sarees. They frankly complain about the discomfort, they have expressed frustration that they can’t wear more comfortable clothes. They have wished they could wear salwar kurta, and spoken wistfully about wearing jeans.

        The comfortable practical pair of jeans that most men take for granted is a dream for thousands of women whose parents, husbands and in laws would never let them wear it.
        Because jeans/salwar kurta are too modern. Read this post – ‘No jeans for an Indian daughter in law’ written after this man beat his wife for wearing jeans while shopping with her own parents.

        I also agree that one gets used to anything. I have seen women who have never left their hair loose or worn trousers wishing they could, but can’t. Those who have always worn sarees sometimes can’t start wearing salwar kurtas. Some people can’t wear tight clothes, some aren’t even comfortable showing their face, or looking someone straight in the eye.

        One problem with purdah of any kind is it prevents a woman from interacting with other people freely… if she is lucky she has someone to do this communication for her and she has no reason to want more. If there is a problem, I fear she might feel trapped. Indian women in abusive marriages feel trapped too. They have never had the chance to learn to survive. We all need such skills.


        • Thanks a lot for that comment.

          I do agree with you that jeans are better for fast movement and maybe more comfortable . I dont need to be a woman to know that.LOL

          But my problem with Shail’s comment is that she is “doubting” the “free will” of many women whose CHOOSE to wear sarees or burqas or hijabs.

          Me – Indian Pandit a lot of women are emotionally black mailed into dressing traditionally. Women talk about this all the time. And so many blog about this too. Often those who choose to only wear sarees or burkas are those who never got a chance to try anything else. I know my mother won’t even wear a salwar kurta – there was no compulsion for her to wear a saree- but it was just the done thing – she has worn a saree all her life.
          If a woman has freely worn whatever she wanted, and if she can if she chooses – wear a saree one day and wear shorts the next day – with no one complaining, then it would be free will.
          Don’t you agree?

          i am sure u have seen many highly educated women choosing to wear saree in offices. and performing and competing with others at an equal level.Lets respect their choices…..i am sure u will agree.

          Me – So long as they can choose not to wear a saree without being criticised. 🙂

          Of course , forcing ANY thing on ANYBODY is bad.

          By the way , here is a small piece of information that may help u.
          In a program called “Inside Iran” telecasted in BBC , it was revealed that 60% of all Iranian university students are FEMALES and hijabs are compulsory in Iran.

          Take care.

          Me – Indian Pandit that does not make hijab any better! Education is great but one needs to live too. One needs freedom. Can you imagine what they would have achieved if they were free in so many other ways – including how they dressed.


      • I think there is a confusion about ‘free will’…. a place you were told to choose what is right, in more crude language, brain-washing to believe what is right… and then there is free will where you are taught to choose what is right for Yourself, if that is the social conditioning we all receive the world will be a better place to live in. Give me alogical explanation as to how one will teach another the logic/concept/fact about the need for a burqa and/or a ghunghat?
        Free will is being allowed to have the freedom to choose but not trained to choose what you finally choose!
        And personally, even being a pretty much pro-traditinal dresses woman, I support to the last the right for each and every woman to wear whatever they want… Clothes are a personal taste nd preference and it is made an issue needlessly and idiotically.


      • @Indian Pundit, The ‘doubtful’ in my sentence,
        ” “However forcefully it might be argued that ghunghat, burqa et al are worn of their own free will by some women, it is doubtful just how ‘free’ that ‘will’ really is and how much part conditioning is playing in it.”
        refers to my own thinking. I wonder it could be ‘this’ or ‘that’ situation or a blend of both. What is your objection to a person wondering about something?? Or is it the fact that I have not taken absolute stance that is your concern?? :))

        “I am assuming that u dont like “ghunghat or burqa”.

        Of course yes, you are assuming right. I am used to dressing in a particular way and to me ghunghat is something unthinkable. Anything wrong in that?? Am I not allowed to like or not like things?? HOW does it in anyway connect to the matter under discussion?? I am NOT imposing my likes on anyone. I am not asking anyone to take off their ghunghat or burqa. I am just wondering WHAT exactly makes them choose it. For that matter, I MAY even wonder how the tribals can walk around topless.

        “Plz remember you NOT liking burqa or “ghunghat” maybe also because of “conditioning” that u had.”

        Of course it could be. Have I said otherwise?? You are reading things that are not even intended. Lol. It seems funny to me. Effects of conditioning COULD be there in me and that is exactly why I said I am “doubtful” if it is free will or conditioning in other women, since I am ALREADY aware how much part conditioning CAN play in one’s own thinking.
        Looks like you have an objection to people who are NOT judgemental. Lol. Please read the matter written well before you “judge” those who have written it.

        and ohh….. do take care.


      • “Also , i get the feeling that “many” women have a kind of idea that somehow “modern” dresses and styles are superior to traditional ones.”

        Sadly enough that’s not the truth. In my own example, it was I who was judged for not sticking to tradition, because I wore something different.

        It is NOT always the modern woman feeling superior. Some times her confidence is misconstrued as superiority. In my opinion from what I have noticed all my life it is those who hug traditions fast are those who almost always act superior and treat the aberrant ones as not good enough. Food for thought.

        Me – You are right Shail, those who hug tradition do seem to feel sanctimonious and superior sometimes.


  35. The “crimes against women are caused by what they wear” argument is something I just don’t buy, and which really makes me mad. If this was true, why do we read in the newspapers that five year olds – or even, horror, six month old girl babies are raped? If your society is not mature enough, don’t blame the women for it. Don’t forget the other 50 per cent.

    And yeah, this “woman are to blame” is reaching ridiculous heights, like the “cleavage causes earthquake” nonsense. I wonder when our societies will truly grow up.

    Me – I agree Chinkurli. Also consider little boys who are abused.


  36. Everybody should be free to wear what they want but a bit of common sense goes a long way in making life easier. Wear a bikini at the beach but certainly not in the office. Don’t flaunt your attractiveness in the faces of others. As far as Burqa goes, the last word belongs to a senior Al Azhar cleric Tantawi who said that France has the right to legislate on such things in its territory and muslims have to obey it. If they are unhappy they can leave. If anyone is unhappy he or she can leave. In such matters I prefer Al Azhar to bloggers. And here’s to all those who like speaking about rights — Sorry, but your rights are not absolute. When they begin infringing on my territory, back off. Neither are mine. There are no absolute rights. Even the right to your life depends on whether you want to kill me or not.


  37. Interesting post, interesting comments!!!

    Muslim women wear hijab simply because they are Muslims, it is as simple as that.

    The word “Muslim” by definition closely means: the one who obeys the Almighty God, his/her Creator, Provider and Sustainer… to seek His pleasure.

    According to Islam, every single human being has been created by the One Almighty Creator and purpose behind his/her creation is to live a life of worship and obedience of His Creator. The life of this world is a Test. One’s Death closes the door to this life and is the beginning of the life of the Hereafter. He will be brought back to life on the Day of Judgment, when he will have to justify for his every single action (right/wrong). His good deeds will be multiplied and rewarded immensely while he pays for his evil actions and acts of disobedience to his Creator.

    Muslims live a life in the hope and mercy of their Creator, trying in every possible way to seek forgiveness for their sins and win over His pleasure and ultimately seek a place in the Eternal Garden of Paradise and protection from the Fire of Hell.

    The Holy Quran is the Word of the Almighty God. It contains a series of commandments (do’s and dont’s) that a Muslim needs to follow in order to be successful (I mean to attain the pleasure of His Creator).

    Some well known Do’s:
    Pray 5 times a day.
    Fast during Ramadan.
    Give Charity and so on…

    Some well known Don’ts:
    Do not drink Alcohol.
    Do not commit Adultery.
    Do not cheat and so on…

    Wearing hijab for women is also one of these Do’s: The Almighty God mentions in the Quran:

    “O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed…” (Qur’an 33:59)

    “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” (Qur’an 24:30-31)

    Also, there are enough guidelines as to how Men should dress and behave, but that is a different subject altogether.

    So a Hijab wearing muslim woman is only obeying her Creator in seeking more good deeds for herself. Also, in Islam since the “actions are judged by ones’ intentions”, if she dislikes hijab and has been forced to wear it, then there is no reward attached to it.

    On a side note, every year around 20000 Americans adopt Islam as their religion and around two thirds of them happen to women. None of them are forced to accept this religion. They read about it, adopt it out of their own free will, practice it, and of course wear their hijab too…



  38. You know my views on this IHM. Had written about the Burqa ban and Laicite.

    I personally HATE the burqa but the word that makes me see red is BAN.

    Bleddy hell before I let anyone else tell me that I am to be set free because I was o pressed and how now they are setting me free.

    Dear people with taliban like mentality

    Burqa or bikini or ghoonghat. Please dont make choices for women. They have a brain and they are capable of using it thank you very much.


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