It’s bitterly ironic how often we’re told that Muslim women in the West wear Islamic dress freely and proudly. Yet Islamic spokesmen in the West never seem to get around to addressing this kind of coercion.
MOSCOW — Women in Chechnya are under pressure to adopt Islamic dress, according to human rights activists and an Islamic fundamentalist video circulating on the Internet in the latest example of deteriorating women’s rights under Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the president of the restive southern Russian republic.
Activists in Chechnya, where Russia has waged two wars against separatists in the past 16 years, said intimidation reached a peak during the fasting month of Ramadan. There was also a crackdown on violations of Islamic law such as the sale of food before sundown and any sale of alcohol, they said.
The activists who spoke from Chechnya insisted on anonymity because they said they feared reprisals.
Threats tapered off, they said, as Ramadan ended in mid-September. Men in Islamic clothes had been approaching women whom they deemed unsuitably dressed to pull them by the arm, an offense according to Chechen custom.
A woman activist said that incidents she recorded in August included a woman being taken away by men in a jeep for wearing a skirt they regarded as see-through and no head scarf in Grozny, the Chechen capital. Other men handed out leaflets to women advising them how to dress, she said.
According to Chechen tradition, women should not wear sleeveless clothes; they usually wear a strip of headscarf more like a hairband than a hijab. Until recently, it was considered the prerogative of male family members to decide their style of dress, but Islamic activists, with support from Mr. Kadyrov, are calling for much fuller cover.
The run-up to Chechen Women’s Day, a holiday decreed by Mr. Kadyrov to honor 46 Chechen women who drowned rather than succumb to Russian soldiers in 19th century wars, featured fawning praise in the Chechen media of women as wives and mothers and calls to observe Islamic morals.
Chechen television reported on September 16 about a march in Grozny of female students of an Islamic university in Islamic dress. The event, organized by a club called “Ramzan” and a government agency responsible for “spiritual and moral education,” was dubbed “Beauty of the Chechen Woman.”
“Every person must strive to beauty, and a young woman who puts on a hijab looks beautiful, as befits the dictates of the Almighty,” Sado Meserbiyev, the chairman of “Ramzan,” said.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in August that women’s rights were being violated by efforts to impose an Islamic dress code. It said women without headscarves or in immodest dress had been attacked with paintball guns in Grozny. […]
Yet attacks by insurgents who say they are true representatives of Islam continue, even as Mr. Kadyrov introduces measures that he says are meant to preserve peace and the purity of Islam….
Footage on the Internet shows women in dresses with short sleeves and no headscarves being sprayed with paint from passing cars. Mr. Kadyrov told Chechen television in July that he approved of such action.
“Even if it was done with my permission, I wouldn’t be ashamed,” he said. “It turns out that the girls who were sprayed with paint had been warned several times previously. After such an incident, a girl should just disappear from the face of the earth, lock herself in the house and not go out because she behaved so inappropriately that such a thing happened to her.”…
It’s all her fault, doncha know.