Of course she is oppressed, she wears a hijab!

Published: October 20, 2016

The hijab has always seemed to invoke extensive debate in Muslim and non-Muslim societies. There have been numerous cases of harassment of hijab-clad women in the western societies, with the French going to the extreme of banning it. The west believes that hijab is a symbol of oppression towards women.

When you see a woman wearing a hijab walk into the coffee shop, and order a mocha latte, do you wonder if she’s oppressed?

Do you wonder if her male relatives watch her every step?

Do you wonder if hijab limits her in any way?

Do you feel sympathy for her?

How many of the above-mentioned questions did you say yes to?

These are common assumptions attached to those that don a hijab.

I for one, have gone to great lengths reflecting upon all the ways in which hijab has liberated or suppressed me. I doubt that there is anything inherently liberating or oppressive about the hijab, rather what you choose to draw from it.

For those who’ve embraced a real choice (and not the illusion of a choice) in making the decision to don a hijab, like myself, the hijab has been less about sexualising me, and more about privatising my sexuality.

Especially today, when sexual objectification of women (even men – hold on to those mancrimination cries) is a part of our mainstream living, hijab allows me to feel less objectified. However, I cannot stress enough that notions of oppression and objectification are such relative ideas that it seems nearly impossible to quantify them with the intent of creating such a generalised concept.

But do I need to be wearing less or more to be empowered?


Does wearing a hijab empower me?


Hijab, like several other religious dictums, is interpreted differently by everyone. We can argue on length about religious dictums not being open to interpretation. But the existence of multiple sects within Islam proves otherwise.

To wear a hijab or not to wear one, is a personal matter – a choice that lies between you and the God you believe in, and shouldn’t be a yardstick to gauge my ‘oppression’.

Taskeen Zahra

Taskeen Zahra

The author is an aspiring writer and feminist who is passionate about global affairs, education and gender equality - a student of International Relations and life at large.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.