Why the burqa should be banned

Markandey Katju
Markandey KatjuOct 02, 2018 | 12:09

Why the burqa should be banned

I have read Mehr Tarar's article "If Bushra Khan chooses to wear the full veil, what's your problem?" published in DailyO.

bushra-inside_093018_100218101928.jpgNo, it's not freedom of choice. It's the opposite. (Photo: AP)

I would like to tell Ms Tarar my problem. India (and Pakistan) are passing through a transitional period in our history, from a feudal society to a modern industrial society.

Unless we establish a modern industrial society, we can never escape from abject poverty, massive unemployment, widespread malnutrition, almost total lack of proper health care and good education for the masses, colossal farmers' distress, etc.

starving-copy_100218102203.jpgWe need to focus on their basic needs and not obsessively on our own attire. (Photo: PTI)

For doing so, the biggest hurdle and obstacle in our path is the feudal mindset of our masses (full of casteism and communalism) and feudal customs and practices. Hence, to progress, we must destroy feudalism in all its forms.

Wearing burqa is a feudal, backward practice which is totally irrational. Of course, women can be modestly dressed, but surely sari or shalwar kameez are modest dresses.

Mehr Tarar says that it should be left to the choice of a woman whether to wear a burqa or not – but I disagree. In my opinion, no choice should be given to women to wear a burqa or not, and by law, she should be imposed a heavy fine if she wears it, as is done in France and some other European countries.

burqa-copy-_100218103113.jpgThe burqa is unwelcome in many European nations. There's a strong reason. (Photo: Reuters)

To those who talk of freedom, my reply is: too much freedom is also bad.

For instance, a parent must not be given the freedom to send his/her child to a madarsa or Saraswati Shishu Mandir, where the child is often indoctrinated with religious bigotry but should be compelled to send the child to a modern secular school.

If we wish to escape from poverty and other social evils, we must not be too liberal – we have to attack feudalism, and not give freedom to it. To permit women to wear a burqa is giving freedom to feudalism.Freedom is a double-edged weapon – it can be both good or bad.

The freedom which takes society forward is good and should certainly be encouraged. There should be freedom to spread rational and scientific ideas. But there should be no freedom to spread superstition or backward, unscientific ideas.

The custom of wearing burqa pre-supposes that a woman is a temptress, and has to be sequestered or contained, lest her body arouses male lust and lascivious desires, which can create public disorder. In other words, the female body is such a powerful sexual object that short of covering it, nothing can prevent men from molesting it.

As Australia's senior Islamic cleric Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside without cover, and the cats come to eat it, whose fault is it, the cat's or the uncovered meat's? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she were in her room, in her home, or in hijab, no problem would have occurred."

To me, this logic insults both men and women.

It insults women as it regards them as "meat", and it is an affront to their intelligence, dignity and autonomy. It is an insult to men because it regards them as 'cats', who cannot control their impulses and act responsibly.

In my opinion, we need a Mustafa Kemal, who banned the burqa in Turkey and brought the country into the modern age.


Last updated: October 02, 2018 | 18:16
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