My mum took this picture of candidates for the Shura Council in Egypt. Electors were being asked which candidate will represent the El Nur Salafist party.
The 3 men look fairly normal, but who is that under a blanket? Yes it’s a woman.
A lot of people think this is traditional dress in Egypt and that women choose to wear it. However it is only quite recently that there has been renewed pressure to show you are a virtuous woman by covering up.
It seems that although women say they choose to cover their heads and faces, they seem to choose to do this much more when male religious leaders tell them to.
This picture of Blogger Dew’s mother in the late 60′s shows women in western style dress. She says “ Virtually every Egyptian woman over 55 will recount stories of how she and her friends wore short dresses and sleeveless tops in the 1950s and 60s—and no man dared to harass them.”
Theses pictures of Cairo university graduates show how it is relatively recently that the headscarf has come back. In fact between the 20′s and the 50′s The veil gradually disappeared so much so that by 1958 this article reported Samia Gamal as saying ” Egyptian Women have always been ahead of their muslim sisters. The veil is almost unknown here, Men and women have been going to school side by side. there are dozens of female lawyers in the country. One of its top surgeons is a woman. Mrs Shafic declared that “Egyptian women are for all purposes practically emancipated”
Although these attempts at modesty and being virtuous are supposed to stop unwanted male attention, most women seem to report that the amount of harassment, threats to safety and restrictions of women freedom had all increased markedly. The men who are required to lower their gaze modestly pile all of the responsibility for modesty onto the women.
My mum who had been living in Luxor experienced lots of harassment living there She also sees lots of men taking their sky boxes in to be unblocked so they can see porn.
The programme on Radio 4 Beyond belief yesterday explained that the more a woman covers up the more virtuous she is. How about the men showing that it doesn’t matter how uncovered a woman is he will lower his gaze, and treat her with respect? That would show some real virtue.