India Hijab Row: Men Can Liberate Women By Getting Out Of Their Way

India Hijab Row: Men Can Liberate Women By Getting Out Of Their Way
Hindutva trolls are out in scores weighing in on what Muslim women should wear in Karnataka. They are spewing senseless hatred against Muslims that is consuming middle class Hindus under BJP’s India. For perspective, BJP’s India is where Muslims are lynched by cow vigilantes, Muslim journalists are arrested, Kashmiri Muslims are fired with pellet guns, Muslim women are sexually harassed through online apps by university students, and the state remains complicitly quiet on brazen calls to murder Muslims. Secular or progressive Muslims with Hindu spouses are not spared either. All of this is ignored, minimized, or rationalized by the Hindutva brigade through the crass argument that Islam preaches terrorism, and that Muslims are terrorists. 

They refuse to look within to arrest the rise of senseless hatred by deflecting to Pakistan or other states with a poor record on human rights. But increasingly, this crass hyper-nationalism of the Hindutva brigade is becoming manifest for the whole world to witness. Such trolls are sparing no one in their mindless jingoism, as they lash out against western social media users for raising their voice. The comments on Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai when she raised her voice for the Karnataka school girls are yet another example of this vicious hatred. 

Grown-up middle-class Hindutva men are arguing that Muslim women should wear the uniform and that they want to liberate them from stifling traditions. For starters, it is not their position to dictate the dress code for women, Muslim or otherwise. That is a decision that should be made by women alone. It’s their body, their choice. Second, the issue is not about what a tiny fraction of Muslim women wears but about why grown-up men clad in orange shawls are entering the school premises to harass Muslim students. The scrutiny should remain on the bullies.  

Additionally, if these grown-up men are really concerned about Muslim women or women in general, then they should start volunteering for women’s rights groups, and financially help women’s shelters. They can also start looking within at the glorification of inhumane practices like suttee that continues to be projected in Hindu devotional serials. Instead of wasting time trolling, they can focus on becoming part of the solution on how to make India safer for foreign women tourists and women in general. 

The argument on wearing uniforms rests on ignorance and malice. The COVID pandemic made it quite clear that extenuating circumstances allow for masks at schools and that they do not take away from effective education. Moreover, excessive monitoring of uniforms violates human rights, especially if Sikh students are not allowed to wear turbans or for that matter Hindu students are prohibited from wearing their sacred threads. 

Middle-class Hindus need to wake up and cleanse their country from this Hindutva madness that is destroying the fabric of their democracy. Maybe that will have a positive effect on Pakistan, and it too shall start looking at its own abuse of Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindu religious minorities seriously. 

Returning to the grown-up middle-class Hindutva trolls, they need to find a cure for their rampant hatred and work towards becoming a human being. A starting point is to recognize that what women, Muslim or otherwise, wear is none of their business. In essence, if they really want to liberate Muslim women, they need to get out of their way.