Modesty-shaming and Slut-shaming. Islam, aurat, and choice.

“People (often) wanna speak about Hijab in such a way that..women who wear it do have a choice..but..it drowns out the voices of women who want to talk about the other side of it – what it feels like to be pressurized by their family, cultures, and communities.”

Aliyah Saleem

On the over scrutiny of women’s dress code and morality in society 

(Jamila Rahim – MMO, 3 Oct 2014):

“Those who wear the “tudung” (headscarf) are not necessarily good. And those who don’t wear the tudung are not necessarily evil. That’s an individual right.”

(hijabiexoticdancer, 2016): 

“Why is it that both the West and Islamic worlds are so keen to discuss whether women are oppressed by how much or little they wear when no one gives a damn about how much men wear? No one I know of thinks of men as being oppressed when they wear neither swimming trunks nor when they cover themselves from head to toe.”

(Malaymailonline, 2016):

“Both the teasing and teased girls inevitably grow up to be the women that see wearing tudung as the only way to fit in and not because they see it as obedience to their faith.

If these women make the decision to liberate themselves from shame and insincerity, let them not face further bile and hatred from society. Just like with Uqasha, we should stand by them and their newfound freedom.”

Ameera Begum (Singapore, 2016):

“EVERYONE believes they have the right to comment on someone’s spiritual journey. If I decided to wear the tudung today, I’m not sure if I’d have the strength to continue wearing it with all the hate that is going around. Even by fellow hijabis!..

..Spirituality cannot be seen. Closeness to Allah cannot be measured by the length of your beard or how much of your skin is covered. Please pleeeeease stop with the fixation on the hijab/tudung as a measure of someone’s faith and modesty.”

Ameera Begum (Singapore, 2016):

 “(Why not) tell (men) not to wear shorts when they play soccer/other sports or wear tight-fitting clothes? We worry that God might ask them about the 2 inches of skin above the knee that they expose and tempt onlookers with..

..Men, if you want to tell women to wear hijab or wear their hijab properly, how about you pause and tell your bro to quit smoking and quit watching porn instead? ‪#‎priorities‬‪#‎leaveourhijabalone‬” 

Musliminah (Singapore, 2011):

“My focus here is on the headscarf as a visible signifier of morality and its implications for the daily lives of young women. 

No one has any qualms telling (her) off..if she’s seen to be e.g. smoking cigarettes, kissing in public even if married, shouting or fighting, having close contact with men in public..

..policing young women who are not ‘properly’ dressed..Being under constant surveillance..Is it really a surprise then that some women choose to appear in some situations with a headscarf, and some without?

..Sadly, there are no equivalent markers for men in our Muslim community..Because of the invisible morality of young Muslim men, they can get away with a lot of things.”

The latest news that hit world headlines

The burkini ban has triggered a fierce debate in France and elsewhere about the wearing of the full-body swimsuit, women’s rights and secularism. (26 August 2016)

A parody of the burkini ban by Buzzfeed – 14 Men Who Are Horribly Oppressed By Their Beachwear. (*The burkini is similar to full-body swimsuits that any woman and man wear, the only difference is that the burkini covers the hair too.)

In that ironic sense, contrasting stereotypes held by individuals around the world are that – women who cover up their bodies are oppressed or “forced to” (*the “forced to” is true in some cases depending on various factors e.g. national / legal / societal / cultural / family / religious norms and expectations, but it should not be generalised to all women), while women who show off their bodies are sluts, and “asking for it” (*neither correct nor true).

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However unlike women, men are neither as regularly judged, scrutinised, condemned nor shamed as being “oppressed” or “sluts” when they are either fully covered up, or in their swimming trunks.

2 viewpoints I agree most with are (*focusing on Singapore’s context)

1. Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib A matter of individual choice, not communal right (TODAY. 8 Nov 2013):

“It must be noted that the call for allowing Muslim women to don the hijab is not equivalent to ensuring all Muslim women don the hijab. The latter is undesirable, nor should be tolerated as it infringes again on the liberty and right of an individual to dress as she deems fit according to her personal or religious belief.

The wearing or non-wearing of hijab must be left to the individual’s discretion and no woman should be coerced to wear it on religious grounds, just as she cannot be coerced to take it off on secular grounds.

Public education must continue in ensuring that Muslims and non-Muslims, men and women, do not adopt stereotypical views on the hijab and confuse the women wearing it as ignorant or oppressed, nor with the view that women who do not wear it as immoral or immodest.”

2. The right of every woman to choose what to wear (AWARE, 12 Nov 2013):

AWARE supports the right of every woman to choose what she wears. Women must enjoy equal access to work regardless of their sartorial choices.  

It is important that women do not face discrimination when their dress indicates their belonging to a particular religion or is associated with a particular ethnic group, especially when that ethnic group is a minority that feels marginalised.  They should not have to hide their beliefs or group membership to participate in public life.

At the same time, the meaning and importance of the headscarf or any symbol of faith must be decided by every woman for herself, as a matter of individual religious conviction. A Muslim woman who does not wear a headscarf should not be attacked as less of a true member of her faith or community than one who does..

Some wear headscarves, some do not, and some have changed their minds on the issue more than once.  We celebrate their right to change their minds.  Whatever their decisions about their bodies and dress, they deserve respect and inclusion from all.”

Screenshot 2016-08-26 11.40.14

Content Page

1.What does Islam say about aurat (*minimum body parts to be covered up according to Islam) and dress codes? (*Taken from 7 sources)

2. Freewill v.s. Forced 

3. Pro-choice: Covering up or flaunting our bodies are personal choices of women ourselves. 

4. My thoughts on the Hijab, Niqab, and Burka when it comes to education, employment, immigration procedures, and national issues.

5. Looking Forward

What does Islam say about aurat (*minimum body parts to be covered up according to Islam) and dress codes? 

*Do pardon me if the diverse sources I have seeked out (below) may not be accurate to the teachings of Islam.

# Source 1: Hijab In Islam: Modesty, Humility and Dignity (WhyIslam, 2015): 

In the Quran, God says, “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms…” (24:31). 

However, contrary to popular belief, these characteristics are not limited to women alone..God also commands men to maintain their modesty in the Quran“Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do” (24:30).

Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please God while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command. Many people mistakenly believe that women are forced to wear the hijab. This concept is not based on Islamic teachings as God says in the Quran, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256).

Likewise, Prophet Muhammad never forced religion upon anyone. If a woman is being forced to cover, it is contrary to this clear Islamic principle and might be due to cultural or social pressure. According to Islam, a woman willfully chooses to commit to this act of worship.

*The role of  Islamic Religious Council of Singapore(MUIS) is to see that the many and varied interests of Singapore’s Muslim community are looked after. In this regard MUIS is responsible for the promotion of religious, social, educational, economic and cultural activities in accordance with the principles and traditions of Islam as enshrined in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

# Source 2: (MUIS FAQ Section, 2015):

 Q: Is covering the face compulsory for muslim women?

A: The ulama (*a body of Muslim scholars who are recognized as having specialist knowledge of Islamic sacred law and theology) differ in opinion on covering the face for women.

The first opinion is that it is wajib (*compulsory – rewarded if performed, and punished if failure to carry out). They based their opinion on verse 59, surah Al-Ahzab, in which they infer that lowering the garment in that verse implies covering the face too. The ulama in this group then differ among themselves on which part of the face must be covered and which part can be uncovered. Some of them are of the view that the whole face should be covered including the eyes. Some said only one eye can be visible. Some said both eyes can be visible but not other parts of the face including the eyebrow. Some said the eye and forehead can be uncovered.

The second opinon is that covering the face is mustahab (*recommended – Rewarded if performed, but no sin if failure to carry out) if there is a fitnah.

The third opinion is that the face is not aurat (*minimum body parts to be covered up according to Islam), thus it is not necessary to cover the face. The ulama in this group then differ on the range of aurat for women. Some said that only the face and the hands below the wrist are not aurat. Some said the face and arm are not aurat. Some add to the list by saying that the feet is also not aurat.

The original position of Imam (*Islamic leadership position) Syafii is that covering the face is wajib. But the accepted position of most ulama of the Syafii Mazhab is that the face and hands below the wrist are not aurat. A few ulama of the Syafii mazhab stated that the feet is also not aurat outside solat (prayers).

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*Sisters In Islam (SIS) is a civil society organisation committed to promoting the rights of women within the frameworks of Islam and universal human rights.

# Source 3: Sisters In Islam: Tudung, Headscarf is a Personal Choice

“The wearing of the tudung must not be imposed on any student, or on any woman…as matters concerning religion are highly personal and the individual choice should be respected. Muslim women should choose their dress from inner conviction. No coerced choice can ever really be moral; such coercion, in fact, runs counter to Islam’s emancipatory emphasis upon reason/freedom as the basis of human morality.”

# Source 4: Tudong, Infopedia (Singapore):

The tudung is a headscarf that many Muslim women wear in order to comply with the Islamic dress code, which requires Muslims to cover their aurat (body parts that should not be exposed in public). In the case of Muslim women, the definition of aurat covers the whole body except for the hands and face. Maintaining one’s modesty is thus the main impetus behind wearing the tudung.

The central reference points for the Islamic code of dressing are the Quran, the Hadiths (reports of Prophet Muhammad’s sayings) and the Sunna (normative examples set by Prophet Muhammad’s life). The references to head coverings found in the Hadiths and the Sunna in particular are believed to form the basis for the tudung being regarded as an integral part of a Muslim woman’s attire.

# Source 5: Essence of Islam, Darul Arqam Singapore, Chapter 9 Islamic Etiquette and Practices (page 91):  9.4 Dress Code:

Muslims are expected to dress decently covering one’s awarah. For men, the minimum parts of their body to be covered (aurah) are from his navel to the knee. Whereas for Muslim women, their entire body except the hands and the face is their aurah. Thus Muslim women are usually seen with hijab (head cover) along with their modest dressing.

# Source 6: (Muhammad Quadir’s Brochure): Women’s Dress and Modesty (Discover Islam: The Muslim Woman, 2015)

Muslim women dress in a way that is modest and dignified. The purpose of clothing is to not only protect oneself from the physical elements, but also to protect from the immorality and pride. The Islamic concept of dress applies to both women and men. It sets expectations of moral and respectful interactions between the genders. As a result, both men and women are liberated from their baser instincts and can focus on higher pursuits. 

# Source 7: Sisters In Islam (2015): Quran doesn’t specify women’s hair as ‘aurat’ (malaymailonline, 22 Jun 2015)

The Muslim women’s rights group said the perception that a woman’s “aurat” covers her entire body except for the face and hands came from a hadith narrated by Asma Abu Bakar. A hadith is a collection of sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad.

“However, this hadith has been greatly contested by Islamic scholars, such as Thariq Iwadullah and Sheikh Nasiruddin Al-Abani, on the grounds of its authenticity in the chain of message as the ‘rawi’ (transmitter of hadith) was renowned for being dishonest,” SIS told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.

SIS is of the opinion that hair is not part of a woman’s ‘aurat’. In fact, the Quran has never mentioned hair as being specifically a woman’s ‘aurat’. “When reading Surah an-Nur (24:31) on covering one’s modesty, it is important to understand the context of when the verse was introduced,” the women’s rights group added.

SIS said that the verse which states that women should “draw their khimar (head covering) over their bosoms” was made in reference to the culture of 7th century Arabia, in which women traditionally already wore the khimar. “The message of this verse is to advocate modesty by calling on women to cover their bosoms with the khimar, as bosoms traditionally did not constitute body parts which was (sic) already visible.

If hair was also considered a woman’s private part, the Quran would have clearly specified it in 24:31 when women were instructed to cover their bosoms,” said the group.

What I understand from the 7 sources…

From the above 7 sources, what I interpret is that covering the aurat is a religious obligation for both male and female Muslims, and that there are different interpretations (*by Muslim scholars) to what body parts are considered aurat for the respective genders.

At the same time, it is also mentioned that the choice to cover up, or to wear the hijab is an independent decision, and no one should not be co-erced or pressured into doing so, as the latter goes against the principles of Islam.

Freewill v.s. Forced 

Some women might feel pressured to wear the hijab or cover up their bodies because of societal norms from their environment, laws, religion, or family beliefs. An example would be when donning the Hijab is enforced by the law in some Muslim states, which is something I disagree with. Muslim girls should be given the autonomy to choose how much they want to cover up their bodies, don, or not don the Hijab,without facing social or legal repercussions for either choices.

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Picture credit: azquotes

If we put it into Singapore’s context – even though covering up one’s aurat, and donning of hijab is deemed by many Muslims as a religious obligation in Islam, it is not legally mandated on Muslim women here (*it should never be legally mandated).

Yes, there would be definitely some Singaporean Muslim women who cover up their aurat and don the hijab out of social or religious pressure/conformation (*which is wrong if they are forced or pressured to do so by their family, religious community, or law).

“It must be noted that the call for allowing Muslim women to don the hijab is not equivalent to ensuring all Muslim women don the hijab. The latter is undesirable, nor should be tolerated as it infringes again on the liberty and right of an individual to dress as she deems fit according to her personal or religious belief.

The wearing or non-wearing of hijab must be left to the individual’s discretion and no woman should be coerced to wear it on religious grounds, just as she cannot be coerced to take it off on secular grounds.”

– Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib (2013)

But at the same time, many Muslim women in Singapore in general cover their aurat, or wear the hijab out of their autonomous choice and religious convictions, and they should likewise be respected for it.

“As a woman who wears the hijab, I have nothing against a woman who choose not to cover. I made a choice with my body and so did they, and we should both be respected for it.”

– anonymous (Whisper app user)

“The freedom of expression also extends to women who choose to wear the hijab, as forcing them not to wear the hijab is equally as oppressive as forcing them to wear it.” 

– Riz Rashid (2015)

And likewise for Muslim women who choose not to cover up, or change their minds on the covering of their aurat / hijab more than once, they should be respected for it, and not be criticised as “being lesser of a Muslim”, or be “slut-shamed”.

“Those who wear the “tudung” (headscarf) are not necessarily good. And those who don’t wear the tudung are not necessarily evil. That’s an individual right.”

(Jamila Rahim – MMO, 3 Oct 2014):

“The wearing of the tudung must not be imposed..on any woman..as matters concerning religion are highly personal and the individual choice should be respected. Muslim women should choose their dress from inner conviction. No coerced choice can ever really be moral; such coercion, in fact, runs counter to Islam’s emancipatory emphasis upon reason/freedom as the basis of human morality.”

Sisters In Islam

“A Muslim woman who does not wear a headscarf should not be attacked as less of a true member of her faith or community than one who does..Some wear headscarves, some do not, and some have changed their minds on the issue more than once..Whatever their decisions about their bodies and dress, they deserve respect and inclusion from all.”

AWARE (2011)

Both the teasing and teased girls inevitably grow up to be the women that see wearing tudung as the only way to fit in and not because they see it as obedience to their faith.

If these women make the decision to liberate themselves from shame and insincerity, let them not face further bile and hatred from society. Just like with Uqasha, we should stand by them and their newfound freedom.

– Malaymailonline (2016)

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“EVERYONE believes they have the right to comment on someone’s spiritual journey. If I decided to wear the tudung today, I’m not sure if I’d have the strength to continue wearing it with all the hate that is going around. Even by fellow hijabis!..Spirituality cannot be seen. Closeness to Allah cannot be measured by the length of your beard or how much of your skin is covered. Please pleeeeease stop with the fixation on the hijab/tudung as a measure of someone’s faith and modesty.”

– Ameera Begum (Singapore, 2016)

“When (some) Muslims talk about modesty culture..It’s the idea that if you cover up you’re morally superior to someone that doesn’t cover up. That to me is slut shaming. In the west, it would be called slut shaming. You look at a woman who is dressed “provocatively” and you call her a slut, to (some Muslim’s) mindset, provocative (can mean) showing your hair.” 

 Riz Rashid (2016)

“My focus here is on the headscarf as a visible signifier of morality and its implications for the daily lives of young women. 

No one has any qualms telling (her) off..if she’s seen to be e.g. smoking cigarettes, kissing in public even if married, shouting or fighting, having close contact with men in public..

..policing young women who are not ‘properly’ dressed..Sadly, there are no equivalent markers for men in our Muslim community..Because of the invisible morality of young Muslim men, they can get away with a lot of things.”

– Musliminah (Singapore, 2011)

“A woman wearing modest clothes in the street can be told to wear hijab; a hijabi is told that her outfit is too colourful or too flashy or her hair is showing; a niqabi is flirting with her eyes; and finally, a completely covered woman in public causes fitna, or chaos with simply her presence. I’m not exaggerating. At least once in my life, I have been told one version or another of these reasons for covering up.”

“Young women making fashion tutorials are constantly told that their makeup and hijab styles are unIslamic, while young men are driven to depression because of their tattoos. Instead of pointing out each other’s flaws, let’s aim to see the best in one another. How can we raise strong, self-confident Muslims if there is a constant beating down of their decisions – sartorial or otherwise?”

– Musliminah (2014)

No Hijab Day encouraged those who wear Hijab to come forward and show support for those who are forced to wear hijab – either by a governmental regime or by society – by publicly removing their hijab..the countless many who don’t have a voice..whose daily life is constantly controlled by misogynist men through hijab..

..who are never good enough for not covering up enough..those who have been victims of physical attacks including having acid thrown on their face for not wearing hijab..Isn’t it amazing how a piece of cloth can dictate and define so many lives? And even more astounding that it can ruin so many lives. A piece of cloth.

Safiya Alfaris (2016)

“I fully respect anyone’s decision to wear what they want, and that includes the decision to cover their hair. No one can choose what liberates you, except for yourself.”

– Shafiqah Othman Hamzah (2015)

“Someone alim (pious) once told me, you wear a hijab when you’re really beautiful or really ugly and could cause distraction to others. Makes me wonder – who are we to judge,”

– Tunku Idris

“Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please God while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command..as God says in the Quran, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256). If a woman is being forced to cover, it is contrary to this clear Islamic principle, and might be due to cultural or social pressure.”

– WhyIslam (2015)

“I’m a hijabi who sometimes takes off her hijab when going out. Some of my friends are totally against it. Live your life a little. Hijab is a choice, not by force.” 

– anonymous (Whisper app user)

“Conclusion is to wear or not to wear, people will still judge. In the end, its all between You & God, and He knows better.”

Arn Jamaluddin

“It was as if I was afraid about what others say and think. But I don’t want to live based on what others think anymore. Let this decision be between me and God.”

– Uqasha Senrose

Pro-choice: Covering up or flaunting our bodies are personal choices of women ourselves. 

Women are found in every part in the world. But, we are all shaped by the society we live in, family customs, legal landscape, religious beliefs, and cultures we abide to, and life experiences. All these will naturally influence our world view, and personal beliefs towards how we feel – we as women, should dress.

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Picture credit: quotesgram

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Photo credit: azquote

Just because a person do not dress like us, it does make our dressing the “correct” one. Just because we do not dress like them, it also does not make our dressing the “wrong” one.

Why the double standards? What makes our dressing right and appropriate, while we perceive the dressings of others as wrong, indecent, or too old-fashioned? 

We are all ultimately shaped by our backgrounds and beliefs. All of us come from different environments likewise, so everyone chooses to dress in different ways for various factors and reasons, and all women should be respected for our personal sartorial choices. 

And matter-off-factly, liberation and empowerment can come from both covering up our body, or showing off our body, depending on our perception.

Some girls feel that they should flaunt their bodies when they are still young, attractive, and hot, or like the sense of empowerment they get when they show off their bodies; while other girls feel that their bodies are precious gems that they only want to show to their partners or husbands, and they do not want, or are feel comfortable with garnering attention to their bodies.

Neither mindsets are wrong, more or less moral, nor worse or better than the other. It’s simply a personal choice, that need not be judged by those who dress differently, or those who hold contrasting views on how they think women should dress up like. 🙂

My thoughts on the Hijab, Niqab, and Burka when it comes to education, employment, immigration procedures, and national issues.

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Photo credit: ABC

In Singapore, none of the islamic headscarfs / attires are banned in the public sphere (*correct me if I’m wrong), which means Muslim women are free to wear not only the Hijab, but also the Niqab and Burka, and other variations of islamic attires in their private lives.

Hijab, and modifications to public schools uniforms

The hijab is free to be worn by students in public polytechnics and universities (*no school uniform attire, students wear outside clothes to school).

However, the hijab is not allowed to be worn as part of school uniforms of public primary / secondary schools, and junior colleges. But, female Muslim hijab-wearing students are free to wear it outside of school. 

I’m not too sure about the attire rules for ITE and private educational institutions. But for female students studying in Madrasahs (*private islamic religious schools), the Tudong alongside the Jubah (*long, loose dress) is a standardised uniform.

When it comes to modifying the school uniforms to cover up one’s aurat, I did had the chance to converse to a Muslim female individual before who had attended a public secondary school. She said that she was allowed to wear long pants instead of PE shorts during her Physical education (PE) lessons after her parents wrote in to the principal asking for permission.

Wearing long pants does protect the leg from sports bruises and cuts, and we are told to wear them during some school camps. From a secular viewpoint, it made me reflect that students (*regardless of race and religion) can be considered given the choice to wear long pants if they want to do so for safety reasons. Likewise, the choice to wear PE shorts should also remain as per normal.

Hijab ban in certain frontline jobs

There is the issue in Singapore of Hijab not being allowed to be worn as part of the uniform for frontline areas of the following jobs e.g. Nurses, Military, Police, Immigration etc, even though it is generally allowed in majority of others jobs, as well as prominent high-ranking occupational roles e.g. in parliament. 

If donning of the Hijab has little hindrance to 1) carrying out of one’s job duties 2) the safety of the hijab-wearer or others 3) one’s overall uniform 4) the social relation with others 3), I do not see it as a justifiable reason for it to be disallowed in certain frontline jobs, because it affects their employment opportunities and livelihood as such.

However, if there are safety issues or valid reasons, then the Hijab-wearer should understand and adapt to the situation, instead of seeing it as a form of discrimination. 

Some professions require you to wear a helmet, as an issue of safety, then obviously the helmet is far more important than the hijab and I hope muslim women are smart enough to agree with this and comply with safety regulations.

Riz Rashid

*There are many diverse layers, issues, religious, regulatory, and social viewpoints and impacts to the issue of whether the Hijab ban in certain frontline jobs should remained or be removed in Singapore, so I have saved it’s further analysis in another post. Likewise for “Modification of school uniforms to cover up one’s aurat”  too.*

Donning of Niqab / Burka during employment?

When it comes to the donning of the Niqab and Burka though, I think flexibility should be freely left to companies if they want to allow it as part of the working attire, and the companies should not be called-out for religious discrimination if they choose not to allow Niqab and Burka as part of the employment attire.

I say this because face-to-face communication is a necessity to many jobs in general (*though not applicable to all jobs) e.g. in parliament, public relation, social work, service industry, education (*teaching children how to express, understand, and develop social skills e.g. diverse facial expressions and languages), healthcare, immigration, or in scenarios where customers / clients lack language understanding and fluency, have to mouth-read, or have hearing problems due to age, height, or disability.

Visibility/ clarity / volume of facial expressions and mouth movements becomes an essence to mutual understanding and communication as such between the employee and customer/client, alongside body language.

With the niqab, the lower part of the face (except for the eyes) is covered. With the burka, the person’s overall face might lack visibility, and therefore, the attire may become a barrier to effective communication in the context of carrying out one’s work duty. 

Immigration checks 

During immigration checks, niqab or burka wearers should understand the nature of security checks, and comply with the regulations just like any other individual, and also be treated in a respectful manner like any other person. 

When a Muslim woman who prefers to have her face covered goes through Immigation she can request that a female immigration officer deal with her and she will show here face in a private room or curained off area, the same goes if she needs to be searched at security. 

– AL G

If Burka becomes banned for national security reasons…

I hope it will never have to reach that stage, but if it does comes to a point where the burka becomes banned in the country as bombers decide to wear burkas to carry out attacks, threatening the country’s national security e.g. Chad, Cameroon, Burka-wearers should understand that the government ban is targeted at a bigger issue of national security because of how the outfit is structured and made use of by terrroists for the wrong reasons, and not for the purpose to discriminate against the citizen’s religious attire.

Looking Forward

I hope society in general, the media, adults, and education system would expose and teach the different kind of dressings taken on by people from different backgrounds and beliefs, and empower girls on the fact that we can choose how we want to dress.

There would be no patriarchal, family, social, societal, cultural, religious pressures, morality police, law enforcement, or online “morality-shaming” towards women’s dressing e.g. modesty-shaming or slut-shaming (*which are at times, ironically perpetuated by girls ourselves towards other girls, where we overly scrutinise on the dress sense of women’s bodies ) – to dictate the moral standards of how a woman should, or should not dress (*with the exception of the nudity law because I understand the reason why that law is put in place).

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Image credit: Gracie Fumic

In my utopia world, it would be a scenario where once women have reached the age of 21, we will have the autonomy and control over how much of our body parts we want to show, and do not face repercussions, feel uncomfortable, pressured, be shamed, or embarrassed for dressing or acting in a certain manner 🙂 

 *I chose 21 because girls younger than that might feel pressured, or not be matured enough to make an informed choice to what they really feel aligned to.

“Those who wear the “tudung” (headscarf) are not necessarily good. And those who don’t wear the tudung are not necessarily evil. That’s an individual right.”

– Jamila Rahim (MMO, 3 Oct 2014)

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Photo credit: CNA

“I was having a conversation with my (director), and we were saying that Singaporean women equate sexiness to being slutty, as a negative thing. In the west..Hong Kong, Shanghai or Taiwan, a woman’s sexuality is her sword, it’s her virtue..and he (said):..I think women…should celebrate being sensual, not for a man, but for themselves.”

– Fiona Xie (8 Days interview in August 2016)

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