Monday, 28 October 2013

Ill-fitting and out of place in HK culture

A letter to the editor of the South China Morning Post,  27th Oct:
The burqa, ill-fitting and "stifling".        Courtesy: SCMP
Ill-fitting and out of place in HK culture
If ever a garment was made specifically to subjugate women, it is surely the full paraphernalia of the burqa, the garb demanded by some Islamic men of their womenfolk.
What kind of insecurity drives men to demand this imposition on their womenfolk? How would they like the near suffocation of this garment on a hot summer's day? I would ask them to put a towel over their heads for a couple of hours and see how they like it.
What kind of a man strolls forth clad in light, comfortable clothes while beside him struggles one or more of his wives smothered head to toe in the outfit demanded by religious custom?
Of course, what people do in their own countries is their affair, but they should not think they can bring this outmoded behaviour to other countries.
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do," an old saying goes. It is one thing to emigrate to a foreign country, but don't forget it was your idea to come in the first place. You will be most welcome to come if you are prepared to adapt and fit in. This seems fair to me.
When my husband and I went to Bangladesh for two years long ago, I was advised to cover my arms and legs. So a suitable tunic was purchased to cover the top, and trousers for the legs. In extremis, I wore a scarf over my head. That way I could wander about freely without fear of offending the Bangladeshis. Of course, I would rather have worn a pretty dress but such is life. I was in a foreign country and it was just common courtesy not to offend.
So let those men think again and break loose from medieval times to join the rest of us in the here and now. Their wives will be a lot happier, and therefore so should the men themselves.
Helen Heron, Sai Kung