Harassment and Hijab

During last couple of weeks I am coming across many videos on Facebook shared by friends in which females walk through streets to show the way they are harassed. Firstly, the video(1st below) was filmed and many saw and shared it around the world.  It was about the harassment that female face during daily life. So today the topic is; Harassment and Hijab!
After watching these video(2nd) many have recorded their responses and mostly said,” If after wearing hijab girl should have walked in same area, where she came across some remarks before. This could have given us a better insight into the matter.”But I think that each type of people are present everywhere and even if she walked in same place, for sure those people were not there, waiting for her to return.
I am observing Hijab from 2007 and then for the first time I experienced in my life; when a woman wear Abaya she mostly remains unnoticed as no one see any attraction in her. It really feels great. 
As per my personal experience I can say this for sure, women in Hijab are not targeted much, sometimes they face problems as if someone feel pressure or fear to see them around. Otherwise it is great protection. Wearing Hijab or Niqab is according to law of Islam and in many countries of Muslim world it has become tradition. You can find the post about dress code of Islam here.  
When a small girl becomes few years old she tries on her mother’s niqab as she always see her mother in niqab or hijab. I have a 3.5 years old daughter and she always see me when I am going out I am in hijab and now when I ask her to get ready she runs and brings my abaya and sometimes ask me to help her and teach her how to wear it and normally asks me to buy her an abaya. The point, why I have mentioned this personal experience here is; it is all about how we do and how we teach our kids. If we teach our daughters to wear hijab we can also teach our sons to lower their gaze.
Many complain that if there are so much restrictions for female Islamic dress then why there is no problem for men to wear any kind of western dress. According to Law of Islam men are also advised to lower gaze and dress modestly. It is not just women who are told a lot to follow, about every aspect of Life. BTW women are allowed to wear whatever they want inside their homes and asked to dress herself properly and nicely for her husband. 

Where there is emphasis on modest dressing for both of Muslim women and men a need for eye Hijab is also expressed. It is necessary for men to wear eye Hijab and are asked not to stare at women.

Lot of Muslim women around the world, including Muslim countries  aren’t wearing hijab. They claim that we’re free women. But I feel freedom is not the name of running, getting rid of or breaking the codes or rules of religion. Like if, we are staying in any country we have to follow its rules, if we will not abide by any law we will be punished  for it. Same is the case of Islam, if we are in this religion, we must believe that all the rules are made to benefit us and for our safety. As the supreme power who has created us knows best about us; our needs or demands, likes or dislikes, problems and their solutions.  Anyone who do not follow rules cannot be an open minded person.Religion teach us to follow Hijab/ niqab, what someone choose to wear can be different. I am from Pakistan and no one from my close relatives wear Hijab including my mother but we wear a long piece of cloth( Dupatta) according to our tradition and we are not pushed by anyone to wear that. God has given us free will to chose and follow. He has mentioned both paths; Right and Wrong. Now, it is up to us , what we chose and how we benefit from it. At the end we will be responsible for our acts and face the consequences. It is not men for whom, women wear Hijab/ abaya, God wants a believer women to wear it as He has mentioned many times in Quran and its interpretation can be read in the Hadith. Hijab/Abaya is not something new but came with the beginning of Islam.

But wearing Hijab makes a big difference as I have mentioned before that I have started Hijab from 2007 and I met same people before and after wearing Hijab, I personally felt, great difference in behaviour of people towards me.  I can say that you will certainly see a change in men’s DISGUSTING behaviour!  
If we see the history then we will come to know, how this Hijab/Abaya started after Islam, “It was asked from Muslim women to wear it when they leave the home so , they can be identified.” Islam also teach us to be nice to other religions and its believers. So if a non-Muslim women is not wearing Hijab, no matter what dress she choose for her she do not deserve to be harassed. This is also a fact, even many women who are wearing Hijab still sick of men shaming her. If there is not problem in women outfit, if it is according to Islam, we cannot over look the problem with the men who do not follow Islam. So  to remove problems of the society is it also necessary for men to lower their gaze.
To all the interested people; It might seem foreign because in our world the focus has become more about how Muslim women should dress and the discussion of how Muslim men should dress got dropped or how they must act while seeing a women.
On another note, It’s not that over the years even a Hijabi has never experienced being followed or so many cat calls or wolf whistles. All women have to deal with Disgusting behavior and cat calls of men all around the world. We must teach our children how a woman walking alone would be treated. In many cases women are being followed by educated men and in some cases men try to give their phone number. Sadly, I can only write up to the bunch of ignorant and disrespectful people being idiots, and cannot point anything to the race or religion or the country, such type of men belong.
So the message that comes from these videos, cover yourself while going out of homes, if you don’t want to be bothered. But I also believe that it is needed for the parents to educate boys to respect  women, do not take women as objects of pleasure. Women is accepted to be the most respectful in all her relations like; Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister etc. in all religions of the world. She is not supposed to be abused .
Again, I feel that these videos are pointing out the calling for Islamic dress. I believe if Islam teaches women to wear Hijab there is some logic in that. If someone who do not like women to see in Hijab tries to find faults in Islam and prove it by some actions of few who do not actually bother about religion but have a tag on them and damage the image of certain religion. Today, when many Muslim women are facing problems while practising their religion there are many western women who have come forward to stand with them and accept their right to live freely, you can check a post here. In this (3rd) video you can check the views of people about women wearing hijab. This picture from Facebook tells what is the duty of man in real. 

If you have decided to wear Hijab, that is your choice and no one can force you to do so. I hope that you can make best choice for yourself. We must not waste our energy to find inconsistency of any message but try to act wisely and be safe. We must let God judge, and think with your mind to be on safe side. 

Came across a post about street harassment in Arab News.

What do you believe about such videos, do they really give insight about the matter or just edited accordingly, to do some business? Can they help modify the image related to any issue and help in awareness about cause??


Images: I have prepared these images by using Canva. 

  • Hello Christine
    You are right many women are taught by parents or well wishers to behave sensibly but I hope some day people will educate their sons to be responsible citizen and let them know that women is a human not any puppet or doll to play.

  • This was really interesting. I think there is a lot of confusion about Muslim dress, so thank you for sharing.
    These videos show that some men treat women really badly. It is up to their parents to raise them to respect women. In our society, women are taught not to walk alone at night, not to get drunk, not to dress provocatively, but the real issue should be teaching young men to have respect and never, ever take advantage of a women. It is not the job of the woman to avoid being treated in this way.

  • Hello Crystal

    You are right. This is freedom of choice and all of us have the right. But at times some people do not take others as humans but unfortunately as a commodity.
    Thank you for your time.

  • Its everybody's right to wear what they want. It isnt right to harass people. People can be so rude and ridiculous sometimes. Good eye opening article.

  • Hello Catarina.

    I am really impressed with your Knowledge.

    Believe me with your each comment I am coming to know something different and new, that I actually do not know.

    I will try to search about the points that you have mentioned, but on same side I also suspect, anyways will check.

    You are right I also come across many horrible videos that are being uploaded on net and heart just bleeds to see the brutality. Situation truly have changed after 9/11.

    You will be pretty aware that even Muslim countries are allies against Islamic state. We know from our Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h)) that there will be people that Quran will not go down from their throats and now we are in that time and see this as truth.

    You are again right , if every Muslim was like some (that are wrong) then no one have survived till now. Not me and may be not You. (sorry to say that , but just as an example).

    Thank you for contribution.

  • Catarina

    There are rapists of all religions. But we have to look at this issue from a broader aspect.

    The idea that Westerners are against Islam was invented by the Wahhabis about ten years ago and is completely wrong. Just a small percentage of people in the West have read the Koran.

    But ignorant people in the West nowadays associate Muslims with suicide bombings and the actions of Al Queda, the Islamic State and other fundamentalist groups because that's all they see in the news. Once again, this didn't happen in the West until after 9/11 but will increase because of constant videos being shown where people are being beheaded in Iraq and Syria by members of the Islamic State.

    Ignorant people don't know that out of 1,5 billion Muslims only a handful are fundamentalists.

  • Hello Marquita
    Yes I have also came up this video on my Facebook page where lot of friends have commented and expressed their points about videos.
    I have read each comment on these pots and I just tried to recollect all points in my post that people expressed.

    This problem deserve a lot of attention and cure can start from home and parents are the one who can help children at very early age to learn how to respect people that includes women too.

    I love to know that you are living in diverse culture with respect and piece of mind.

    Thank you for your time. Much Appreciated.

  • Hello Pamela

    I love your point that we must dress according to the occasion. That will help a lot to stay away from cat calls.
    I appreciate your time and comment.

    Thank you

  • Hello Deidre
    I really appreciate your time.
    I agree with you.
    Both male and female are responsible for their behavior and it is needed that they respect each other, regardless of any ethnicity, culture, race etc.

    Thank you for contribution.

  • Hello Arleen

    You are right , this is the duty of parents to teach boys and girls and give them values to be responsible citizen
    Thank you for your time.

  • Hello Tim

    Thank you for standing and identifying the problem.
    I really appreciate.

  • Very thoughtful and informative article. I have seen the videos and I understand the point some have made about the areas looking rough but I don't believe respect should be based on the class of the neighborhood. A women's group I belong to on Facebook discussed this issue a couple of weeks ago and there was a very long thread with comments by women who nearly unanimously had experienced some similar type of harassment. So regardless of whether these particular videos are slanted for effect or not, the problem is real and deserves attention.

    I live on a resort island and we don't have this type of harassment problem. I believe one reason it's different here is that there are so many ethnic groups represented in a 500 sq mile area surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean and everyone is encouraged to honor their respective cultures. In fact it's one of the reasons I love living here.

  • Cultural differences can be the breeding ground for ignorance and tactlessness on the part of some of the men in both videos. I'm pretty sure that the men who used courtesy when addressing the women would have only gone farther with permission or encouragement. Those men are no cause for concern. In fact, some probably have or had family from the southern United States who taught them that courtesy. "How are you doing?" or "Good morning" is acceptable because of the intent. Actually, it's rude not to return the greeting. A woman who does this and continues walking is understood. She's polite and uninterested, which is allowed. Men from back east are just as considerate as southerners. Just visually read the man quickly and be prepared. There are more decent men than people think.

    Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge, whether in reference to culture, gender, class, or anything else. Some men have never been taught. The same could be said about the women. Lots of people don't realize that being attractive is a responsibility, and others don't realize that attraction isn't a right.

    The world, even in the best of places, can be full of double standards. Every man and woman chooses how to handle obstacles. Each person has to live his or her life. Women who live here should dress however they please under the premise that they can handle the effects, if any. I know for a fact that revealing female clothing of any kind draws male attention. I also know that NYC isn't most places. Like Pamela said, how about Manhattan? How about upstate New York?

    I'm also certain that many cannot distinguish between a Middle Eastern woman and a Latina. Ignorance also accounts for that as well as any shortcomings in this comment. Every man is a man with power. The same can be said for women. They should respect that about each other.

  • I don't think it is what you wear as much as the lack of respect for one's choice. It has taken the US a long time for women to gain the respect that they desire. Attitudes have to change. This starts in the home.

  • Thank you for your Time. I really appreciate that.

  • Hello Dear

    Love your comment you are right. I too believe that men are same all around the world. Your examples are nice 🙂 and up to the mark.

    I feel that today women must learn how to protect her in this society. State must ensure her safety

  • Hello Jeri

    You are right that dress must be according to occasion and place. Yes covering indicates religious affiliation.
    There are many covered Muslim ladies who are harassed by Muslim men. SO need is to educate men and its duty of Government to ensure security of ladies.

  • Hello Patricia

    Thank you for your time. You are absolutely right that parents can teach kids by different ways and its necessary for parents to do so. As we can see we are leaving behind all the values and moving towards disaster.

  • Hello Lenie

    Yes that is also my point that solution is not in wearing Hijab by Women but there are men who need to learn lesson. You are right that wearing Hijab is Symbolic and affiliated with my Faith and few tribes of Jews. But Even a women is not wearing it she is respectful and should not be harassed.

    Thank you for your comment.

  • Hello Catarina

    Actually the topic was different but I feel that not all rapist, killers, suicide bombers are Muslims. The problem is there is no Justice, if a Muslims will do something it will be highlighted and rest will be thrown in background.

    There are many examples of good Muslims from around the world who condemn any such action by all, including people, from same faith.

    I feel may be some day people will make some connection of one who dropped Atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Muslims.

    Yes I know many westerner have read Quran. There are few friends of mine from west, who have more knowledge of Islam then Muslims as they read and understand Quran. I think you also have more knowledge of Islam than me.

    I am happy at least you do not relate such sinful acts by few with Islam. I believe that there is ray of light and hope because of people like you in this world, who try to know the truth.

    Thank you for that. I really appreciate.

  • Catarina

    It's not Islam that has a bad name but Muslims and that's a huge difference. How many Westerners have read the Koran or know anything about Islam? It's human beings of your faith that ignorant people see as a threat. Suicide bombers and so forth.

  • Thank you Jason for your comment.

  • Good info in this post. Those videos are interesting to say the least.

  • Hello Catarina

    I believe, Women should not be harassed even if she is not a hijabi.

    You are right, Muslims have left Islam in background and doing what they want and mostly what they are doing do not have anything to do with Islam. You are right, these are Muslims who have damaged the image of Islam that preaches peace for even non-believers.
    Current situation will surly get critical but at the end truth will prevail with the return of Prophet Christ.

  • Catarina

    No woman should be harassed because she is wearing a hijab. And it didn't happen in the West before 9/11. It's now a lamentabl and frequent phenomena becuase the actions of fundamentalists like Al Queda and the Islamic State has made people afraid of Muslims (not Islam but Muslims, which is different). And from what the world looks like today that kind of harassment will most likely increase, ufortunately. The cause of it all is what the islamists are doing. At least women with hijab in the West are just harassed and don't get their throats cut of:-)

  • I have mixed feelings about the videos. They seem to focus on rough neighborhoods, would the same comments be made walking in uptown Manhattan? I don't know my guess is fewer comments, more looks. However whether it's right or wrong, this is the environment she lives in. New York City is what it is. People have to be aware of their situation. When it's raining we carry an umbrella, if its cold we wear a coat, and if we walking in undesirable areas of New York City a woman doesn't wear revealing clothing. To tell you the truth if that woman were my friend or daughter I'd tell her to wear a jacket. If someone wears clothing because it's a religious "custom" seems to be a different issue than what the video is pointing out. What I get from the video is, "dress for the occasion”, don't open a can of worms unless you're going fishing.

  • A very thought provoking article Anna. It is unfortunate that such responses were so easy to catch on video and as many others have said, it is a respect issue.

  • Salam Andleeb! I can't talk for all women, but from my experience I can tell with certainty that, unfortunately there are many men who don't have any shame in harassing women (at work, in public, etc etc etc) , and esp when the dress is tight or revealing, devil in them comes out. Some harass openly, while others do it in subtle way. Men are same all over the world in this aspect. (certainly there are many decent men who act with modesty). I will always prefer dressing modestly to protect myself as first step of precaution to minimize this type of harassment. Of-course educating men to treat women with respect is important, but if someone keeps chocolate / icecream in-front of a food lover and say you must learn to control your temptations, it wont work all the time. (am not telling that women are equal to chocolate or something, but just an example). It seems that men easily get stimulated by women's body. I personally agree with you, and will always vote for modest dress compared to the dress which will portray a woman as object of pleasure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • While the editing done to such videos will help illicit desired responses, there is no excuse for a man to ever act like that toward a woman. I'm the type of person who is generally happy enough blending into the scenery, but nor do I want to feel like I need to cover myself up to avoid being looked at.

  • Andleeb, I'm sure the videos are as everyone is saying – disturbing. A few months ago I stopped watching such videos whether they come across my FB page or other ways.

    In reading your post I do so agree, these courtesies can be taught. Parents who want to do so can both lead by example, and talking with their sons about respect, courtesy, civil manners.

    Thanks for making us – think.

  • Hi Andleeb – I did find the videos disturbing. I think it's rather frightening to think men could treat young women that way. Wearing the hijab as part of your religion is fine, actually that's what it should be, wearing it to stop harassment just seems wrong. There is a bigger issue here that needs to be dealt with. I totally agree that men need to be taught through childhood to respect others, not just women but everyone. A very thought-provoking post.

  • Hello Donna

    You are right. This is the reason that even hijabis in many parts of the world are harassed.
    I hope few men will try to be responsible out in public.
    Thank you for your comment.

  • Hello Ken

    You are right. I have given the example of countries where females wear hijab and come across such situation. SO problem is not with women. Some men need to learn how to behave properly.

    Thank you

  • Hello Noelle

    Yes my point is also that. No matter what women wear they face such situation. SO men need to learn some manners….Surly not all men are like this but unfortunately many.
    Thank you

  • Great article- i think the biggest issue here is the men's attitude to women, regardless of what they wear.

  • The issue of harassment shouldn't be about what someone is wearing, whether man or woman. This issue is about the disrespectful behavior of the harassers and that is really what needs to be addressed.

  • I respect a woman's choice to wear Hijab, but I see it as primarily a religious choice and not an answer to the harassment witnessed in parts of these videos. The behaviour in the videos shows a lack of respect toward women. Men need to be educated to respect all people, including women, whatever they are wearing, and to behave properly.

  • Hello Jacquie

    The girls were wearing a normal dress and even then they were harassed. I actually think that it is not about covering by a female , it is more about the values that some mad people in streets should learn and I am sorry to say that many educated do this to other women when they are out and will kill others if see them doing so to any female of their family.
    I do not know when these double standards will find an end.

  • Hi Anna, I found these videos very disturbing. I did not fine either outfit immodest at all, and I think this speaks so poorly of our society here in the US. While I admire your desire to wear Hajib in deference to your faith, I really dislike the idea of doing so as the only to ward off these neanderthal men. Very thought provoking post.

  • Hello Tatia

    Thank you so much for your time.
    You are right about that but there is also a need for men to get some knowledge , how to behave when they are out in public. I feel this is utmost responsibility of parents to teach them values from vary beginning.

    Thank you.

  • Hello Amna
    I hope and thank you for your comment

  • Hi Anna. This was a really thought-provoking blog topic. The comparison of the harassment in both videos was really interesting, and I was appalled by the amount of catcalls the girl received when she wasn't wearing the Hijab. Her outfit was casual and not too revealing, and yet she was subjugated to crude remarks from passerbys. Men need to be better educated on proper behavior because there's too much focus being put on women to dress more modestly or act a certain way to solve this issue.

  • amna khan

    V thought provoking.May Allah gv us toufeeq to understand our deen and gv us toufeeq of amul.Ameen.

  • Hello Batool.
    I hope you will not regret your decision.
    thank you for your time.

  • very impressive. i will try to wear Hijab

  • Hello Aliya

    As I was watching above added videos on Facebook from many days so just thought to share my feelings on Hijab.
    Than you for your comment and time.

  • Really nice and useful Article.. It convinced me more that my decision of doing Hijab is most appropriate and right thing for me.