In the scorching sun and heat, they are wrapped tightly in robes from head to toe but only the women while their husbands and children are dressed according to the weather.
I watched as a Muslim mother and her daughter were waiting for the bus the other day - the mother was dressed tightly starting with a headscarf and covered completely all the way down to her covered shoes, in the hot stuffy weather while her daughter was in a tiny T-shirt with shorts and sandals.
My head was full of thoughts about the girl and what she might think, looking at her mother and the other women from her religious culture, in stark contrast to their husbands and children. I wondered what she thinks about that sometimes, at her maturity, she will dress like her mother and the other adult women? And her brother won't. Her brother will be able to walk around in the heat dressed in a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals, and her - in contrast, she will only be in covered shoes, to say nothing about the rest. Does she wonder why this is happening in her community? Why is an adult woman wrapped in robes and an adult man not? I wonder if she ever asks about it. I wonder if she asks, and if she asks, what answers does she get. I wonder if such thoughts ever cross her mind. Maybe she doesn't think about it at all. Perhaps it is so obvious as she's been raised this way and easily accepts her fate?
I wonder how it feels to her, as kids are very perceptive. After all, every human being has a built-in sense of justice. Is it fair that an adult woman can't put on what she wants and have her hair free, and a man can? Especially in the heat of the day. Or is justice different for women and men? Or maybe women have a different biology, and they don’t feel hot in the scorching temperatures? How can she feel about this?
I watched several programs about Muslims in which imams explained that girls and then women are like a priceless treasure that needs to be protected, and that is why they are wrapped and covered so tightly. Even themselves, they cannot see and enjoy this treasure in a mirror hung in a public place; it is so precious. Hmm, this kind of 'beautiful words' argument must be persuasive to both - girls and boys. The mind buys these word candies quite easily. Besides the mind, however, there is a sense of justice and a sense of reality in all human beings, no matter how conditioned they become.
I wonder if the boys sometimes think about this issue and ask their parents about the differences they see every day.
Children have a sense of justice from the day they are born, and even an authoritarian way of upbringing, which may force them not to show their feelings when human rights are violated around them, won't change what they feel about it. Children are susceptible to being treated unfairly. I watched a video once showing an experiment that was carried out with an equal number of boys and girls. They were given chores to do - cleaning the house - everyone had similar responsibilities. After the job was done, they got paid - the girls got less money than the boys for the same amount of work. The kids were shocked and indignant, and when they asked the adult experiment leader why, they were given the answer 'because it's the way it is in the world.' They didn't seem to take reality like that as normal and okay.
I read about many Muslim women protesting against European bans on headscarf 'discrimination,' defending their 'right' to cover their bodies since the European and other non-muslim women have the right to uncover them the way they want. I even read about a few cases of their 'victories' and granted permission to wear headscarves in some public places.
Weird. Until now, it seemed to me that non-Muslim women could both uncover and cover whatever they want, and this phenomenon is called freedom. However, I have noticed that Muslim women's 'freedom' lies in their right to COVER their bodies only. And quite a few of them are fighting hard to keep this 'right.'
It reminds me a little of the intervention of a neighbor who wanted to help a wife roughed up by her husband, whose screaming he heard through the wall. When he tries to pull the neighbor away from his wife, she shouts suddenly in her husband's defense: 'That's my man! Leave him alone!'
Well. Everyone has the right to wear their handcuffs. Especially when you don't know you have them on. We can spend all our lives without knowing that we are in the prison of our minds. But every moment is equally right to notice that and make changes.