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Does the veil protect Muslim women's honour? Or does it serve to "mark" them as docile victims for Muslim men intent on rape?

Reader comment on item: Islamophobia?
in response to reader comment: I think you got it all wrong about the burqa

Submitted by Georges Fernandez (India), Sep 5, 2006 at 02:41

No, the point I was making, Elif, was about the widely prevalent preying on vulnerable women within the family by all men able to do so, in Islamic societies. When I was doing research in the West on the subject, in my years as counselor, young Muslim immigrant women would visit my office to voluntarily talk about their own experience. There is this urge to give voice to their suppressed histories, to validate themselves, to bring it out in the open, as more and more women from Pakistan, Sudan, Morocco and so many other countries speak of disturbing sexual abuse in the family!

Since most Muslim women I have encountered tend to be modest in their behaviour and manner of dress, not very open to integrated social situations, they are rarely subject to sexual attention by outsiders even in the 'decadent West'. It might be different in their own milieu, but their worst horrors of victimisation seem to manifest in interaction with the males in their own families! In India recently, there was a rash of cases involving father-in-law rapes. Beyond that, it would be well-nigh impossible for Muslim women to go out and lodge complaints against their own fathers and brothers, to have them arrested! Yes, incest is common in all societies, but I wish to ask if the veil is sufficient to protect the modesty of Muslim women inside their own homes? Obviously not! Then what is all the ballyhoo about women's honour and the veil 'protecting their modesty'?

Also, if you take stark instances like the rape of Bangladeshi Muslim women by Pakistani soldiers, can the veil alone offer any protection to women, if the men are intent on rape? The ideology of the veil serves another purpose altogether, obviously, and it is for you to figure out what it is!

Submitting....

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