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Friday, 2 April 2010

On the Islamic Veil

Many Muslim women (and men) say: 'Islam only orders women to wear veils for their own safety and protection...' There are many presuppositions embedded in this statement. i) That no Muslim woman who wears the veil has ever been raped or molested or is likely to be. ii) That the phrase 'Islam only order women' cannot be taken in any other Way. iii) That somehow the veil alone will 'protect' and guarantee the 'safety' of Muslim woman. And iv) That no method of guaranteeing the safety and protection of Muslim women is a method too far.

In response to i). Is it a fact that veiled women are never - or rarely - the victims of rape or molestation? What about those who have been raped or molested by their husbands or by another family member? As for ii). Millions upon millions of non-Muslim women have never been seriously molested and never been raped by a man. And perhaps Muslim women are more, not less, likely to be the victims of such things. Note iii) simply assumes that every perpetrator of female molestation or rape is directly and completely responsive to only the sexual/physical appearance of unveiled women rather than, say, a victim of his own misogyny or disturbed thinking. And in terms of iv). If the protection and safety of Muslim women is absolutely paramount (no matter what!), then Muslim men could just as easily advise their wives to stay at home at all times or never risk the possibility of accidental contact with men - even if wearing the veil. Indeed many Muslim men have gone this far.

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