Is Hijab the only Protection?

We need to see beyond the obvious

SOCIETY BY ISHRAT BASHIR MATTOO

Ours is the age of skepticism and cynicism. Our society is characterized by a “deterioration of personal, political and social morals”. Corruption, be it personal or social, has seeped into our very roots. A psychologist rightly remarks, “The melancholy truth about the course of the world history is that we are well along the road to disintegration”. Values have become vague and meaningless terms. Nuclear weapons are not the only means of destruction. Moral confusion is also a potent destructor.
Our own valley, Kashmir, has been known for centuries as “Reshi Wer” (the valley of saints) but unfortunately, moral confusion has gripped it too and will engulf us soon if we don’t lookout for ourselves. Take for example the problem of Eve-teasing. Does it simply mean that girls are teased by men? No! It is the reflection of moral corruption of our society. Girls are harassed everywhere; particularly while traveling in buses, by young and elderly men alike. It has become a norm to blame girls for their dress-code. Ask anybody in Kashmir about the cause of this problem, he will blame girls for not wearing proper Islamic dress (Veil). There is no denying the fact that Hijaab (Veil) is an obligation for Muslim women but when you walk in a dark jungle where wolves are roaming with their tongues out, drooling, is Hijaab the only protection? No! It is not. Wolves smell you, be you in veil or sans it. In Hijaab or without it, girls are teased alike. I remember once I boarded a bus from college to my home, a few people were standing in the bus and among them was a girl wearing a veil. She was completely donned in Islamic dress. Suddenly she slapped a boy hard at face and silence fell over the whole bus. Evidently, the boy has misbehaved with her. At the next stop, she got off the bus. To my utter surprise, everybody in the bus (of course men) started consoling the boy and few men also passed remarks like ‘amis aesi garami seeth magaz tatemith’ (she was frustrated by the heat) against her. None condemned that boy. Nobody showed even a scorn for him. Such incidents are a daily scene in the buses, yet we claim that we respect “at least the women in Hijaab”.

We should, therefore, open our eyes to the fact that eve-teasing is not as much the result of absence of the proper dress of girls as it is of the presence of moral weakness of men folk. If women are not properly donned, does it give license to men to take liberties with the women? What of self-discipline and self-control? What of our moral values? We know that Satan provokes man to misdeeds. Does that mean our misdeeds are to be written in Satan’s account? Does that make us free of the blame? Would a man of character be tempted to evil just by sitting beside young girl? It all depends on how morally upright and strong we are.

Moreover, it is painful to see that this moral vacuum has opened its mouth big enough to engulf our so called senior citizens too. With their white beards and saintly appearances, they are also at par with the youth in this evil practice. When one talks of the old age, what comes to mind is serenity, compassion, wisdom and protection. It is shame to see our elderly people indulging in such fits of passion in the public places.

Once a friend of mine advised me that if in a bus, two seats are vacant, one with a youth and another with an elderly man, I should sit with the youth. She was right because you can at least defend yourself against a youth but you cannot say anything to the elderly person for you will be considered shameless to blame an old man who has put up a saintly face. Seeing old men indulging in such shameful acts, one is at loss to understand this moral chaos. One even feels hesitant to blame the youth when their guardians themselves have gone astray. We believe that parents should inculcate moral values in young people but who is going to teach the parents? Who will rectify the loopholes in their own moral canvass?

One way to deal with this moral vacuum may be that girls should talk about such incidents, howsoever obliquely, not to their mothers and sisters but their fathers and brothers. We should understand that these men who indulge in such shameful acts do not come from nowhere. They don’t fall from the sky. They are the men from our own community. They come from both educated and uneducated, richer and poorer sections of our society. They are somebody’s father; somebody’s brother and somebody’s son who might be seen as embodiments of piety and righteousness by their families for asks are not expensive to change into. Talking such matters to our men folk and home, may prove helpful to prompt them to behave well when they are outside their homes. May almighty bless us with piety and righteousness.

(Ishrat Bashir Mattoo is Lecturer, Green Valley, Higher Secondary School. Ideas expressed are author’s own)

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