"'I don’t see the point in wearing it,' says the student, whose long dark hair flows out from under her head covering. 'But if I don’t, I know I will be punished. I am scared of that.'"
"Women Live in Fear During Chechnya's Islamic Revival," by Diana Markosian for VOA News, February 23 (thanks to Twostellas):
At the entrance to a school in Grozny, the capital of Russia’ s Chechen republic, two security guards grip their guns as they order a woman to cover her head before walking into class.
“ You can’ t go inside with your head like that,” one of them yells, tapping his AK-47.
The young student rumbles inside her purse before pulling out a black silk scarf.
“Is this better?” she asks, covering up her entire head with the scarf, matching her kohl-lined eyes.
Under the Russia-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya is swiftly becoming a conservative Muslim state, a sharp change from the officially atheist Soviet Union when women in the Caucasus burnt their headscarves. Many Chechen women here are the first in three generations to cover their heads.
This has coincided with the almost complete disappearance of the ethnic Russian population in Chechnya. At the time of the Soviet collapse, 20 years ago, ethnic Russians account for 30 percent of Chechnya's population. Today, they are less than one percent.
But now, “the headscarf is a symbol of purity and worth,” says Malika Omarova, head of the Union of Chechen Women in Grozny. “ When I was a student, I never wore a headscarf, not one person forced me. But, I want our women to wear them - it is in our blood. That is what makes us Chechen.” [...]
Zalina, a 19-year-old student and hair stylist, says wearing a headscarf is not really a choice.
“ I don’ t see the point in wearing it,” says the student, whose long dark hair flows out from under her head covering. “But if I don’ t, I know I will be punished. I am scared of that.”