Monday 18 November 2013

“Wearing the burqa is a question of freedom” [not]

Chahdortt Djavann: says veiling young girls
is "psychological torture"
Letter to the South China Morning Post:

Ali M. Khan asks us to accept the ludicrous notion that wearing the burqa is a “sartorial preference”. That women wearing the burqa “do not consider themselves to be oppressed as, in their social circles, it is not considered so.” (“Wearing burqa is a question of freedom”, November 17 [PDF]). 

Muslim women beg to differ.

Saira Khan, a British writer, says  wearing a burqa is “... the most horrid experience. It restricted the way I walked, what I saw, and how I interacted with the world. .... I felt alienated and like a freak. It was hot and uncomfortable, and I was unable to see behind me, exchange a smile with people, or shake hands.” Norwegian writer Rooshanie Ejaz calls it a “medieval abomination”. Humanitarian Intervention Centre writer Julie calls it a mobile prison. “I would not wish it on my worst enemy… you cannot breathe, see, walk, sit or speak normally”.

Some “sartorial preference”!

Of course burqa wearing is neither a “sartorial preference” nor an expression of “freedom”. The Muslim women above note that it is a project of radical Islam. The burqa is “…a tool of oppression used to alienate and control women under the guise of religious freedom…. a tool of radical Muslim men." [Khan].  The Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie says it stems from Saudi Arabia as a “fundamentalist’s political flag” promoted by radical Wahhabi ideology.

It is an irony then that western supporters of the burqa are in fact promoting a radical Islamist agenda.

More troubling is the increased full-veiling girls as young as four.  Clearly there is no freedom of choice in those cases.  Iranian-born Chahdortt Djavann says the psychological damage done by veiling girls is “immense”.  It “makes them responsible for men’s arousal from a very early age...[and] fear, distrust and feel disgust and anguish at their own bodies”. Ejaz calls it a kind of “psychological torture” which amounts to the "blatant sexualisation of children".

As an aside there is plenty of evidence that wearing the burqa leads to vitamin D deficiencies with associated health problems from osteoporosis to rickets.

Yet all this is tolerated and promoted in the name of freedom of “sartorial choice”.

 I say bunkum, Mr Khan.

Peter F.
Hong Kong