Is a piece of cloth that cover one’s head really a symbol of oppression?
Returning from Iran I gave my eight year old daughter a beautiful scarf, which she wore over her head to the school playground. She told me that the kids ran away from her screaming. I also noticed behavioral
differences in people around me when I wore the scarf over my head in our neighborhood, Steveston, in Richmond, BC, Canada. When I had a photo of me in hijab on my Facebook profile I received serious threats and “unfriendings” from people whom I consider colleagues and friends.
I began wondering how Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab feel about how they are treated. A study by Dr. Chris Allen, University of Birmingham, is showing that currently 80% of the anti-muslim threats reported are toward women who were wearing a hijab, burqua or niqib. Many Muslim women report that they don’t feel safe in much of Europe and North America. Is it really their choice and how does that affect those in countries and with relationships where they are forced to cover?
There is much criticism about oppression and forcing women to cover their heads, but what about women who are free to make the choice for themselves? My intent is to explore how women feel about wearing the hijab as well as other coverings, such as the burqua and niqib from Muslim culture as well as various head coverings in other cultures. How does it affect their life in the west?
This project is mostly discovery. How does hijab relate to other cultures where women wear headcoverings? How does the head covering relate to their personal and cultural identities?