This burqa thing is taking on a life of its own and is coming under fire because its use is quietly spreading through other Arab countries. Why it is resurging has to do with political power, religious and cultural identity in both and non-Muslim countries.
This thing about the burqa is it’s only really a visible sign of male control and female oppression and fear. There is so much more in the way of disgusting and disfiguring practices that occur in countries that are not held to some sort of international (read developed) standards. These gross and revolting practices also occur clandestinely in developed countries. We often only hear about such atrocities via the underground press. Iran is trying to clamp down on newspaper reports coming out of that country. We know about a woman reprieved from stoning to death but we don’t know whether she will live.
It appears that the wearing of the burqa has been around at least since 200AD when Tertullian praised the modesty of the ‘pagan women of Arabia’ who cover not only their head but their whole face. Strabo, who wrote in the first century AD also refers to this practice of some Persian women.
The above is paraphrased from the Wiki article and I can’t see any reason to delve further into this arcane and antiquated practice by citing other articles. Wikipedia will suffice for this purpose.
It is enough for me to understand that, like many quasi-religious practices and observances, the wearing of the burqa pre-dates the beginnings of the religion it purports to follow.
Now I can sort of understand being part of a desert community that travels far and wide exchanging goods, pack animals and other livestock and bartering goods and services with other tribes and different customs, that there could be potential problems for parents with pubescent children. And, of course, these communities were fiercely patriarchal. And still pretend to be; but they are up against the rest of the world now and it is harder for them to behave like petulant tyrants. They keep trying though and succeeding a lot of the time.
I can imagine that sex bartering could become a bit of a problem for the young, nubile and attractive women walking the highways and the byways with their families and with men who start getting horny. Masturbation is usually frowned upon by these archaic religions as well. And, of course, who needs to go blind in a desert:-).
There is always something about sex and its specific prohibition and/or constraint in these old desert-generated religions. It is always to do with sexual denial and secrecy. It’s a perfect recipe for heightened emphasis on sexual desire and satiation with sexual repression thrown into the already volatile mix.
Just walking behind a gorgeous young woman could get a horny bloke to thinking about sex. I can see that. Really, I can; young men as well as adults, otherwise known as grown men. Tut tut. Now it is just a matter of appropriate control exerted on one’s wants. Or duck behind a date palm.
So I can also sort of see the development of coverings like the burqa to keep the young women from being raped or otherwise bartered by unscrupulous men. Tut tut! The chadri as the Afghan version is called is also known as the ‘shuttlecock burqa’ because of the net mesh covering the top part of the face. The ascendancy of the Taliban made it a requirement for women to wear the chadri in public. It is not required officially and in Kabul its use is declining. Let’s hope this continues.
But come on! This is the 21st century. We still may not have grown up into our cortex yet and may still be ruled by our baser instincts in the old brain stem, BUT we do know enough to know that most modern societies will not accept out and out rape and some modern societies consider rape within marriage as a criminal offense.
Millions of men live, work and walk about in societies that allow women the same rights of living, working and walking around in clothing that doesn’t look like a post box. Statistically, few rapes occur. You don’t find men at every turn ripping clothing off women who attract them and raping them on the spot. It’s a bloody ridiculous assertion and not to be used as an excuse to keep women under wraps.
So what is wrong with these blokes who insist on pulling some archaic ethical category out of the past and applying it to current society? Oh, and of course, using religion to give the concept authoritative validity. What a novel approach!
Has anyone got an answer to this question? They are just men after all; maybe not very well educated and not as exposed to other cultures as they could be but really! Surely they don’t anticipate getting their rocks off every minute of every day with any woman who shows a bit of skin or has a pretty face. Really? Are they that mindlessly driven? Really?