How are Muslim women who don't wear the Hajib treated?

Just now on an ABC news piece about France’s ban on the Muslim head scarf, a womens’ rights activists said, “Some girls tell me, ‘I don’t even believe in God, but if I don’t wear the hajib or practice the religion, people say I’m a prostitute’”.

I seem to recall hearing this kind of thing before, women in Muslim communities being called prostitutes over the most insignificant of things. How common is this kind of attitude? What else do women who refuse to wear the head scarf go through in the various different places with Muslim populations?

Hajib? I think it’s the hijab.

I think such attitudes differ from place to place, although wearing the headscarf is usually seen as a sign (and not proof) of faith and maturity (many women start wearing the headscarf after they reach puberty). For example, no women in Saudi Arabia would dare to walk out publicly without a headscarf on, because the religious police would get her. On the other hand, in other parts of the world, eg in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, you might see Muslim women walking around without wearing a headscarf. In fact, the current president of Wanita Umno (the women wing of the dominant Malay party) is a successful, unmarried woman who spots short hair. So much for wearing the headscarf. (Though she has been called a lesbian by some more conservative political opponents)

Besides, the style of wearing the headscarf vary from place to place, and according to individual preference. Some will wear it such that it covers every part of the face but the eyes; whereas headscarfs that cover the neck and the hair only are also very common.

I think it’s very important to recognise that the headscarf is not purely a religious symbol; it falls into the grey area where religion merges with cultural values. Wearing a headscarf can also be seen as modesty and decency - that’s why the prostitute etc name-calling takes place.

Thanks. I’m aware that there are different terms for different variations (chador, burka) but I’m not clear as to whether hijab is a similarly specific type of garment or a more generalized term for the basic head scarf.

Kind of an extreme overreaction, dontcha think? What with many Muslim women and virtually all non-muslim women going uncovered, that’s a lot of prostituites. Kinda saturates the market.

I’d like to see some more anecdotes and region-by-region comparisons of these sorts of attitudes in the Muslim world.

There are also effects caused in the non-Muslim world. I have a very dear Muslim friend living in London. She is London-born, and ethnically Gujurati Indian. She is a believer, and also a young, urban Londoner. she’s also been through a lot of mental turmoil over the hijab.

Says Saphira: I wear it I feel at peace with myself. It’s a part of me. Trouble is, when I walk into a shop wearing it, straight away I’m a “dumb Asian” and people speak to me in broken English, or are just plain rude. When I walk into the same shop bare-headed, I’m every bit as Asian as I was before, but I’m suddenly treated as a fellow Londoner."

This would be a terrible position to be in. France should take note. Last Saph told me, she was going bare-headed. I don’t think she’s having a good time of it though, internally. It’s not fair she needs to make the choice.

This site explains some of the different forms of hijab, FYI.

Its very much a cultural thing and as such varies throughout the world. Generally, Islam simply says to be modest, to not attract attention to yourself by gawdy clothing. I believe that is what “hijab” actually means in Arabic? Not sure on that one.

The specifics probably come from some hadith, which are always in contention. But yeah, I would imagine in an area where a full head dress was normal, someone who didn’t wear one could be called amoral. Prostitute is a general term.

I guess it’s asking too much for a precise analysis on how often women in Muslim areas get called “prostitute” for not wearing the hijab, but may I ask:

Should this attitude be considered “very widespread” among Muslim communities in general? Yes or no.

It it fairly common for prominent members of the community (as opposed to hecklers on the street) to issue these kinds of denunciations publicly?

I hear there are a lot of “honor killings” in the Muslim world. Do people get killed for callng someone’s sister a prostitute as often as sisters get killed for showing the slightest hint of sexuality?

How many real prostitutes are there in, say, Saudi Arabia? Sounds like a pretty high-risk occupation.

“Honour killings” is, like female sexual mutilation, not specifically a Muslim thing. It is also practiced by Christians and other religious groups in the Middle East.