Survey of Non-muslim over Muslim Women Wearing Hijab
In our increasingly polarized world, issues once unimportant have become a source of discord among people, irrespective of religion or culture. The issue of hijab, burqa or purdah, for instance, is drawing huge debates from western as well as other communities in India.
A silent revolution gaining support from all over India is occurring. While on one hand more and more educated Muslim women are voluntarily opting for the hijab, misconceptions abound among the non-Muslims about the issue.
A random survey of Non-muslims towards hijab conducted by Islamic Voice and Trends Research and Analysis Centre (TRAC) revealed a widespread misunderstanding surrounding Islam and those who wear a hijab. The sample size was 391.
Non-Muslims between 17 to 35 years both male and female were asked, “What thought comes to your mind, the moment you see a women wearing a veil?” 28 % of the respondents opined that they thought a Muslim woman is suppressed and wearing the veil against her will, 24 % respondent said that Muslim women wearing hijab are less educated, 18 % of the respondents opined it is Muslim women’s Faith and personal choice and 17 % said hijab protects the honour of Muslim women, and 13 % respondents said Muslim women wearing hijab are submissive and superstitious
Roswita Mendes, 29, an interior designer said “I have many Muslim friends whose parents have no problems with their sons going to late night parties or having girlfriends or smoking, but they cannot stand their daughters without purdah”. I think forcing Muslim girls to wear purdah is inhuman”, she said, “Even if hijab is mandatory in Islam, why does the society not enforce Islamic teaching on Muslim boys instead of singling out girls”.
Sneha Masalkar, 23, student of MBA program opines that often the wearing of the Hijab is something that is done for the same societal and family pressures that compel women to do things like shave their legs, put on make-up, etc. “People in a city like Mumbai don’t really care what people wear; if a Muslim woman enjoys wearing the Hijab, it’s her choice and I respect her choice”, said Sneha.
According to Alok Banerjee, creative director with an advertising agency, the issue really isn’t whether wearing a Hijab is good or bad. “I think it can be either, depending on the situation; it’s whether women can choose to do one or the other. I dare say a woman choosing to wear a Hijab in India would probably fare better than a woman choosing to wear a tank top, skirt, or revealing dress, etc. in India” he said.
Dr Jayna Shah, a general practitioner believes that freedom means choice and while many women find the hijab liberating and secure, countless others find it restrictive and suffocating and can’t wait to be rid of it. “Not wanting to offend anyone, I have a Muslim boyfriend and recently wanted to experience the hijab to see what it’s like. One should not judge unless you’ve been in that place yourself. In India, with its hot and humid climate, a hijab is more an inconvenience then anything else. Being in loose, bulky clothes restrict your movement” she said.
Priyanka Desai, 26, receptionist with a five star hotel, does not believe that the hijab protects women from rape. Arguing that tons of research has concluded that attire will not keep women from being raped she said “Rape is about power, not sex. Countless women have been raped and murdered in full hijab. Yet, we choose to ignore this. Rape can only be eradicated by teaching men to respect women and their bodies and not by hiding the women” she said.
Aditi Divatia, 26, HR manager with an Insurance company, thinks hijabed Muslim women exclude themselves from a whole lot of outdoor activities such as sports and going to gym. “While the hijab might attract stereotyping at the workplace, I firmly believe that it’s the person, in the end, that will earn the promotion in the corporate world, and not the clothing - I’ve seen talented Muslim women with full hijab getting promotion on merits” she said.
Prinka Arora, 25, product executive with a multinational company when asked what comes to her mind when she comes across a Muslim woman in hijab said, “I envy her. I am struggling to keep pace with the changing fashion scenario everyday whereas a Muslim woman in hijab has no such pressure. She is so lucky. I wish even I could have the liberty of wearing hijab”.