Why Should Girls Have All the Flay? 

Credit: Hanna Barczyk for NBC News

By Kabir Writes 

IF the times were sane, every section of society would have been celebrating the success of J&K’s Science topper in 12th class examinations. However, the internet decided to act otherwise. The topper, who appeared for accolades for interviews, was trolled in an unprecedented manner for not observing Hijab/head scarf.

Times are quite strange. Towards South, Hijab is seen as a provocation and students are being coerced into taking it off to access education. Here, in Kashmir, a place where women have outdone themselves and scored brilliantly, they are being trolled for not wearing hijab. In both instances, whether the motive is political or religious, the important aspect of women’s agency to exercise their choice is missing.

Many women wear hijab out of their own volition and many do not. If it can’t be banned, it can’t be imposed either. Our society often jumps at the opportunity to police women and impose all moral codes on them while men are given a free hand to run over the codes of ethics and are also given a leeway as far as religious morality is concerned.

If clothing is a scale to measure the impact of “westernisation” and western morality, why are only women targeted for it? Boys who roam about as Romeos in every street, publicly staring and leering at every passing woman are never talked about. Their wearings, hairstyle, lifestyle, way of talking and behaving is all copied and colonial but no one seems to care to call them out.

One would think that it must be better for those who follow Islamic principles to the tee. However, a much more concerning instance of an anti-hijab sentiment has come to fore and only escalated in Karnataka. While the motivations are grave and no false equivalence can be drawn - there’s one common argument that needs to reach one and all. In the case of Karnataka, many “progressive liberals” have either indulged in whataboutery or rationalised violence against muslim women’s agency by calling hijab regressive. Ironically, they argue that the coercion is progressive. This is nothing but just another way women are dictated about their choices and policed around their dress.

Can such voices sit back for sometime and think both Muskaan and Aroosa are educated enough to think for themselves? What is this uncritical urge to talk over muslim women? Why can we not give them some space to be themselves and not subject them to the gravely unequal social norms set by us? While we are all rallying in unison about the choice of Muskaan in Karnataka, standing up for her right to wear Hijab, we can’t keep criminal silence about the virtual lynching of Aroosa in Kashmir.

Women in Kashmir are becoming achievers and the numbers have only increased over the years. Our society is capable of addressing issues that may make life difficult for women here. If as a community, we are really concerned with the rights of our women, we must allow them space to grow, learn and make their own choices. Additionally, it will do us a lot of good, if we start with addressing the double-standards we have as a society. It makes no sense to have a shirtless guy sporting a spanish fedora demanding women to be the sole representatives of Islam. We need to do better.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

  • Kabir is a student and can be reached at @kabir_writes on Twitter

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