Stop Telling Muslim Women What Is Good Or Bad For Them

Iran Women Burns Hijab Cuts Hair
The ongoing row in Karnataka on whether girl students be allowed to enter the campus wearing hijab or not has gotten comments from most politicians across India. Sadhvi Pragya also known as Pragya Singh Thakur, too joined the chorus on dress policing today. Why is it so difficult to accept that it should be a personal choice what a person decides to wear?

On the ongoing row about hijab, Thakur said that headscarves should be worn when people feel unsafe at home and not outside, where there is ‘Hindu Samaj.’ She made the statements while speaking at a temple in Barkheda Pathani, Bhopal.

The Member of Parliament from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Thakur is one of the main accused in the Malegaon blast of 2008. She was given bail because of her underlying health condition and is often seen in a wheelchair during her public appearances. Thakur is known for making controversial and communal statements. Recently, she was seen in a couple of videos dancing and playing basketball which went viral.

Suggested Reading: Girl Students With And Without Hijab Hold Hands In Udupi: A Picture Of Hope

Pragya Singh Thakur went on to compare the uniform of gurukul, which is a traditional Hindu educational institution, with the current situation of uniforms. She said that the disciples of gurukul used to wear bhagwa (saffron) but when these students go to other schools, they wear the school uniform and follow the rules there.

She said, “Hijab is a purdah. Purdah should be (used) against those who see you with evil eyes. But it is certain that Hindus don’t see them with evil eyes as they worship women.” Talking about Muslim women and their marriage, she said, “You should wear hijab in your home.”

These comments made by the MP of Bhopal were in reference to the Udupi district’s ban on girl students wearing hijab in college and then schools. The case on the same issue is going on in the Karnataka High Court, which has given an interim order advising students to not wear any religious clothing and adhere to uniforms until the case is disposed of.

Over the span of this entire row which began in December last year, many politicians have come and made statements. Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and a few others demanded that the decision of what to wear should be left to women.

So why does leaving the decision process to women not happen often? Why does the majority makes it their right to police and lecture?

Pragya Thakur On Hijab: You Should Wear Hijab In Your Home

Moreover, the choice of hijab is for girls and women to make. To bring communal politics into institutions that are for education is not required. It is a place where children aspire and work towards a goal. By justifying this disruption, are we then making clothes bigger than goals and education for young girls. Also, are we not taking away their agency to make choice?

Thakur and many others who have spoken out on this issue have never spoken on issues that really plague the society and the women, such as marital rape and domestic violence which happen regardless of the religion of the woman.

The people’s representatives need to be careful in the words they speak and the comments that they make. They have a responsibility towards their followers. It is good to pause and think before you boldly go around making comments that affect a larger population and their personal choices.

The views expressed are the author’s own.