Hullabaloo about the Hijab

Imagine you are a man, and you have been told to wear a coat, pants and a hat everyday when you step out of the house. You may like it once in a while, but then one day you don't feel like wearing your hat. You are taken away from your family by morality police. You are explained that you have to wear a hat, and just so the message goes out to all men, you are tortured and killed. For not wearing a hat.

This happened to 22 year old Mahsa Amini, killed by morality police in Iran because a few strands of hair came out of her hijab. Iran's women are now out of their houses, burning hijabs, cutting their hair and undressing in public against enslavement by a rigid regime.

16 year old Asra Panahi died after security forces raided the Shahed girls’ high school and demanded a group of girls sing a pro-regime song. When they refused they were beaten up. Another 16 year old Nika Shakarami an Iranian social media influencer was killed by being thrown off a building after leading anti hijab protests in Tehran.

Men might wonder why women are creating such a Hullabaloo about the hijab. But if your personal choices were snatched away from you, if you are forced to do what you don't like, would you fight?

Closer home in Karnataka 16 year old Muskan was rankled by a mob of boys for wearing a hijab. School teachers and young students in Karnataka are being forced to remove their hijab before entering school premises.

For centuries freedom to choose has been denied to women.How you dress up, how much you study, whether you take up a job, who you marry, when you have children... These decisions have simply been taken away from women in India.

Many men continue to believe women in their family are theirs to control. Is it a surprise that Indian married women have to wear sindoor, bindi, mangalsutra, bangles, toe rings as a reminder of their marital status but Indian married men do not even have to wear a wedding band.

There are some men who have evolved about women's freedom, and there are few women who have used education and financial independence to have access to personal choices.

But when the world's most developed nation takes away reproductive rights from it's women, when a nation burns because women decided to show their hair, when courts have to dictate what a woman can wear; We have to accept that freedom is still being denied to half the people on earth.

Dr Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon, Gurgaon