Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Excerpt from Little Girls Wearing Abayas
By Raid Qusti, rqusti@arabnews.com

There are those who defend women wearing black abayas in our country and there are those who do not. The fact of the matter is that whatever the two parties may argue, girls who have not reached puberty should not be deprived of their childhood, their moment of joy and happiness.

If the purpose of a woman wearing an abaya in our country is to conceal the shape of her body from preying eyes and to appear modest in public, then a girl who is seven years has nothing to do with either “body shape” or “modesty.” Her age and innocence have nothing to do with the adult world and its problems in Saudi Arabia.

When I see how families dress up little girls in black abayas I get both disturbed and offended at the same time. I get disturbed because I realize that that poor child has nothing to do with society or its problems. The child is at an age where she should be having fun and growing up in a normal way without any hang-ups. I feel offended because I feel that her parents who dress her up in a black abaya at such an early age think most of their fellow Saudi men are sexual freaks who would actually look at a girl her age in a sexual manner and make it necessary for her to be covered up in black.


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"Mummy I want to wear an abaya," said little Mariam as she watched her mother and I struggled into our abayas before stepping into the car.

"Well Mariam, you may say that now. I'll give you ten years and we'll see what you think about having to wear abayas." I replied.

"You know you should encourage children good things when they are still young. For me I would always encourage her if she wants to do good things."

I bit my toungue.

You see little Mariam's mum is a Singaporean. And the main basis of our friendship is that we were born in the same country. Other than that, we have very little in common. We have very different views on a lot of things and we do most things very differently.

But what was most depressing to me was why she thinks her small child wanting to wear an abaya is a good thing? Perhaps its true, it does protects a woman's modesty but surely wearing an abaya is not a solution to that! If it was perhaps it would be stated in the Quran or Hadith that all women are only allowed to wear shapeless black robes ,that she may trip and fall on, in public and must keep her face covered in public.

But from the last time I searched, there was no such thing. This was a man made rule for a society whose "virtue" they want to preserve.

Thus it was hard for to accept that this was a "good thing." How can it be good when it perpetuates the belief in society that women must not be seen and herd in public. She must be inconspicuous, almost invisible even and treated like a property to be owned either by her father, her husband or her brother.

Perhaps they start the indoctrination young. I understand the need for the men to indoctrinate the wives and the daughters at such a young age.

But for the women to continue perpetuating it?


1 comment:

Ghazali B Abd Aziz said...

Dear Sunflora

(I guess you don't want your real name then....)

I miss you so mucchhhh .... how things changes around you ... but I guess you still have the same opinion ...

Take care ...

Ghazali