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[Y]ral: “My Hijab Has Nothing To Do With Oppression. It’s A Feminist Statement”

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By Sanskriti Pandey:

Clothing has always been one of the most passionately debated topics in context of women’s freedom of choice. Consider a simple yet probably the most controversial items of clothing – the hijab. It has long been a subject of political discourse, but still never fails to kick up a storm in the debate around women’s liberation.

The hijab, many believe, is the epitome of oppression. But not many consider the obvious – Muslim women can think and choose for themselves. Not many are ready to even entertain the idea that the hijab might in fact be something that rejects the ideas that reduce women to commodity. Is hijab a talking point because “it resists the commercial imperatives that support consumer culture“? In this video, a woman explains how liberation lies in the choice. “By assuming that all veiled women are oppressed, we belittle the choice of those who want to wear it,” she says. Does the idea of the hijab as a symbol of oppression contradict the very feminist values it often tries to defend? Watch this video and tell us what you think.

To know more about what I think of this video, follow me on Twitter at @im_sanskriti.

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  1. ItsJustMe

    Not completely true. It is a choice for them in European countries (I hope) and countries like USA, India etc. However it is not so in most countries in the middle east including Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. In Saudi no woman is allowed to leave their house without a burkha. They should always be accompanied by a male, either their husband or father. They will be detained otherwise and will b able to leave only if the husband or father pays the fine. Please do some research before you publish such pieces. There are many women out there who want to break free, but cannot because of real threat of being stoned to death or worse

    1. B

      ItsJustMe: Instead of reiterating the foolish propaganda of the western media, please travel and meet up with Muslim women who wear the headscarf, and you will be surprised to know that not only do they choose to wear it, but many have had to fight with their families for their right to wear the headscarf. As far as choice is concerned, do you really think that a girl having to wear a miniskirt and a skimpy top to ‘fit in’ is a choice? Look at girls today tugging at their skirts to cover a bit more and constantly pulling their tops to hide their cleavage. That is oppression created by the fashion, beauty, and diet industries. Look at girls today suffering from anorexia, depression, poor self-esteem, body image issues, while perfectly normal girls even line up for plastic surgery. Beauty, diet, and fashion industries have benefitted from a marketing gimmick, and earned billions of dollars after bombarding girls with images of semi-nude women in advertisements, movies, music videos, TV, magazines, billboards, etc.

    2. Avinesh Saini

      Fashion Industry is really oppressive.

  2. Abhay

    It is so naive to say not all women are oppressed, but some have their own choice. Even a 5 year old can say those lines.
    Coming to the point, when the same woman believes, it is oppression for SOME( no idea who is that some), it is so insensitive that she, rather than addressing to the problem of those SOME, tries to justify hijab with some stupid arguements.
    I ask any lady, who wears hijab, and bileves, that it is her choice, would she wear the same, if she was born in a Christian family in the USA, or a Hindu family in India?
    This is cultural and regional imposition, and justifying it with such stupid arguement is as stupid as stupidity.

    1. B

      Where is choice when women are told that in order to be modern and progressive, they must dress in a certain way? This is a form of manipulation that takes away women’s choice so cunningly that women don’t even realize it. It seems as though women who dress in miniskirts, skimpy tops, tight jeans, cleavage revealing dresses, short shorts, tight pants, backless dresses, spandex pants, leggings, sarees with skimpy blouses, transparent clothing, etc are educated and liberated, right? It is people with your mentality that have degraded women to the level of a commercial product put on display.

  3. Amy Thompson

    Wearing the hijab tends to say one of two things. “I’m forced to wear a symbol of a religion founded by a pedophile who raped a 9 year old girl.” Or “I chose to wear a symbol of a religion founded by a pedophile who raped a 9 year old girl.”

    1. B

      Now we all know what your religion teaches you.

    2. MajorBS

      @Amy I adore you for saying it like what it is. That is exactly what it is. I mean its so unbelievable these people go to the extend of killing for someone like that. These people should be ashamed of themselves, but instead they say they are proud of being a muslim. I am like – what exactly did you do to be muslim?Did you save someone’s life to be so proud. Did you break a world record or something? There is zero contribution to the world by being a muslim or a christian or Hindu or whatever religion for that matter. So there is nothing to be proud of it. It is your actions that should make you proud, not your religion

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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