Even in niqabs, they are verbally and physically harassed. This occurs despite the enthusiasm of Naomi Wolf and similar enablers for the supposedly “liberating” aspects of the ironically ostentatious “modesty” of Islamic attire… all of which could arguably be achieved in the West with, say, conventional church-friendly attire, unless one is going for anonymity, or actually seeking attention for being really, really modest.
The problem is, the objectification of women is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, hijab or no hijab, niqab or no niqab. Where the hijab is successfully imposed on a culture, it becomes part of a quid pro quo arrangement to be left alone (and not attacked), and thus becomes in itself the ultimate symbol of objectification, lest a woman be found unworthy of respect or even safety without it, and often with it. (See also: Sheik al-Hilali, and this Egyptian ad.)
All of this goes to show the hijab and its more severe variations are a capitulation to an unjust social order, not a moral achievement, and capitulation encourages the opposite of equal treatment. The best one can hope for is that one’s overlords observe the terms of the surrender.
“Harassment across Arab world drives women inside,” by Sarah El Deeb for the Associated Press, December 15:
CAIRO – The sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab World is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes, said activists at the first-ever regional conference addressing the once taboo topic.
Activists from 17 countries across the region met in Cairo for a two-day conference ending Monday and concluded that harassment was unchecked across the region because laws don’t punish it, women don’t report it and the authorities ignore it.
The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, appears to be designed to drive women out of public spaces and seems to happen regardless of what they are wearing, they said.
That’s exactly the goal, and it is rooted in Islamic tradition, which calls for a woman not to leave the house unescorted by her husband or a suitable male relative, or without his permission.
Amal Madbouli, who wears the conservative face veil or niqab, told The Associated Press that despite her dress, she is harassed and described how a man came after her in the streets of her neighborhood.
“He hissed at me and kept asking me if I wanted to go with him to a quieter area, and to give him my phone number,” said Madbouli, a mother of two. “This is a national security issue. I am a mother, and I want to be reassured when my daughters go out on the streets.”
Statistics on harassment in the region have until recently been nonexistent, but a series of studies presented at the conference hinted at the widespread nature of the problem.
As many as 90 percent of Yemeni women say they have been harassed, while in Egypt, out of a sample of 1,000, 83 percent reported being verbally or physically abused.
A study in Lebanon reported that more than 30 percent of women said they had been harassed there.
“We are facing a phenomena that is limiting women’s right to move … and is threatening women’s participation in all walks of life,” said Nehad Abul Komsan, an Egyptian activist who organized the event with funding from the U.N. and the Swedish development agency….