In the past few days a very strong opposition to a woman’s right to cover has been vocalized. We have been accused of marginalizing the plight many women face in the Middle East who are forced through violence to cover while in public. It has been suggested that a woman living in the Western world should not cover her hair as it means that we too are oppressed. Worst yet, we have been accused of supporting the oppression of women by choosing to wear a head scarf.
Let me be very clear about this: It is not the scarf that oppresses but people that oppress.
Covered in Light is fully aware of the atrocities preformed against women in parts of the world which include the forced wearing of a covering. We abhor these actions and the actions of the enforcers and stand behind our Sisters in hopes of ending the tyranny. No woman should be forced to wear a piece of clothing that she has not chosen for herself. We feverently wish that we had the power to help our Sisters who are forced to cover against their will.
The goal of International Covered in Light Day is to bring to light the issues women who cover by choice endure in their lives: profiling by the TSA, spat upon in public, called a terrorist, made to take of their scarf at work, bullied at school. In the 21st century, this should not be happening. We cannot change the minds of religious extremists a world away, but we can change the minds of the citizens in our respective countries.
What has gotten buried in the debate of covering is that this is not an Islamic issue, this is a Woman’s-Right-to-Choose issue. We have the right to wear a piece of cloth on our head if we so choose without being fearful of backslash. By trying to take that right away from us by using violence, humiliation, and guilt the message is that women must dress a certain that pleases society or she will be punished accordingly for daring to exert her individualism. This is an issue that extends into all faith groups, nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, traditions, socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, sexual orientation, and gender identification.
The hijab is not the only option a woman has, but seems to be the only one that gets the attention. Most Sisters prefer the traditional Jewish tichel, others use wide headbands, snoods, bandannas, and a very few wear the traditional Anabaptist kapp. None of these covering options actively oppress a woman. The adoption of the hijab in the Western culture by no means is done to marginalize this paramount human rights violation. When a woman steps out in public she does so mindful of the oppression of women in other parts of the world.
Women who have been called by their Deity to cover do not take this matter lightly. We have spent our time struggling with the implications, wrestled with the fear of public judgement, but in the end, we have put our trust and faith in our Deity to guide us.
The Sisters Covered in Light ask our opposition to stop spewing accusations and start learning the facts. Stand up with us and be part of the solution.
We are, as always, covered by choice, covered in Light.