The Right to Veil Essay

Submitted By chrisfic
Words: 1022
Pages: 5

The veil can be viewed, understood and misunderstood in many ways. It is seen as a simple fashion statement, a religious statement, a class statement and a symbol of female oppression just to name a few (Dashu 2006). A woman should have the right to dress however she wishes and to cover any part of her head or leave it uncovered if she chooses. However, when a person is employed and being paid to perform work, both parties, the employer and employee, should have rights. Normally, the hiring process gives both the employee and employer a chance to get to know one another. The employer is looking for the best person for the job and the employee is trying to sell themselves for the job. However, the employee should also be doing research to see if he or she really wants to work for the employer, it’s a two way street. Both parties need to be honest during this process. If the employer has a dress code it should be explained during this time, likewise, if the employee has any needs either personal, religious or otherwise, they should be addressed during the hiring process. When there are cultural differences between the two parties, for example, in the case of a Muslim woman applying for a position in a western country, she needs to be careful to note whether or not the perspective employer understands her religious needs. For example, a veil can be anything from a simple hijab, which covers the head and neck but leaves the face uncovered, to a full burka which conceals the entire body. To complicate matters further, the veil may be called different names depending on its owners ethnic background. In Afghanistan a full body covering is called a burka, the same is called an abara in Saudi Arabia and a chador in Iran (Sanders 2001). While there are differences in the names of veils between Islamic countries, there are also different laws governing their use in these same countries. In 2009, Egypt’s top Islamic school al-Azhar banned the wearing of the niqab in the classrooms and living units on all of its campuses (al-Sayyed October 8, 2010). On the other hand, it is well known that the Taliban are not on the side of women’s rights and are often violent towards women who do not cover themselves. Sanders (2001) describes a typical Muslim family “In such a family, the grandmother might be too illiterate to even read the Koran, but because of tradition would wear a scarf called a mandil covered by a length of black cloth known as the tarha; the mother, an urban professional, might wear no head covering because she wants to be seen as a modern woman; and the daughter, a college graduate, might wear the white hijab out of respect for her culture and resentment toward her country's increased Westernization.” For a woman who has never been in public with her hair uncovered, it would seem that forcing her to abandon the covering in public may be equivalent to forcing a woman from a western culture to go topless in public, while other women might welcome the freedom to uncover, viewing it as an opening from social restrictions (Dachu 2006). For some the veil is a form of religious expression, for others it may just be a burden, either way a woman should have the freedom to choose. Many things can be said about veils and religion, for example, the veil was around before the Muslim religion and the veil is typically worn by the bride at wedding ceremonies in western cultures. In the same way crosses were around before the Christian religion and they also have other symbolic meanings which have nothing to do with religion. Whether or not someone has a religious right to wear religious symbols is and has been up for interpretation. Recently in the UK there have been several cases where Christian women were suspended or fired from their jobs for wearing jewelry with small a cross attached (Newman 2012). On the surface it seems like another case of religious liberties being