Burqa losing favour as Afghan women opt for chador

July 8, 2009


(Photo:A burqa-clad woman in Kabul’s old bazaar, 4 March 2009/Ahmad Masood)

Here’s some news for Nicolas Sarkozy. While the French president has begun a battle against the burqa in France, the famous blue garment that covers women from head to toe is losing favour back in its stronghold Afghanistan. In Herat, burqa seller Nehmatullah Yusefy says sales have dropped 50 percent since the Talibanchador1 were toppled in 2001 and he says he will soon need to start stocking other styles of Islamic dress to make up for lost profits.

(Photo right: Baghdad woman in chador, 12 Nov 2008/Mahmoud Raouf)

“I think, God willing, the sales of burqas will decrease, then I will sell chador namaz and even maybe mantau chalvar,” Yusefy said, standing behind the counter of his small outlet on a strip of burqa shops in the western city’s main market.

Read my feature here.

chalwar1The chador namaz is a long, billowing dress in black or sombre-patterned fabric which is widely worn in Iran. It exposes the woman’s face but covers the rest of her head and body until her ankles.

Mantau chalvar is a long coat worn over trousers and it is popular with women in the capital Kabul, who are comparatively more free to dress as they choose. It is always worn with a scarf covering the head that is tied firmly under the chin.

(Photo left: Kabul woman in mantau chalvar, 28 June 2009/Ahmad Masood)

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I know that its only small steps, but I am so glad that a fresh wind is finally starting to blow for the Afghan women.

Posted by Daisy | Report as abusive

Wow! In another two thousand years they might actually start selling mini-skirts and two piece bikinis!

Posted by Brian Pride | Report as abusive

I find it interesting that Islamic men have such little control of themselves, that they have to control the women of their society. I do not see this as a faith issue, but one of power and control. They need this to feel important. But deeds speak louder than words and this says volumes.

Posted by Susan Drake | Report as abusive

one day, religions will be toppled just like the taliban. then people will have to evolve and grow backbones and make judgments for themselves and live with their own consciences. until then, there will be infinite te deum.

Posted by dan b. | Report as abusive

Muslim women act like sheep. They are dominated by male PIGS!!! They are their equals or maybe even a bit better!

Posted by donald | Report as abusive

LOL @ Brian Pride. And I agree with Susan Drake. Those men (to say the least) over there are OUT OF CONTROL! Hopefully their abuse towards women will be stopped dead in its tracks soon. How completely ridICulous!

Posted by K. Love | Report as abusive

I find it interesting that Americans can judge what is faith to an individual person or people group half a world away. That’s arrogant, no wonder the world hates us. Their culture and beliefs are nowhere near what ours is. I’m not saying that their culture is better, I’m saying it’s different and unless you live there your seeing it through the lens of your own experiences and culture. You don’t know what it’s like and have no right to judge it. Lest you think American culture is so great, statistics tell us one in four girls are sexually assaulted by the age of 21 in America. Wake up people, ONE IN FOUR. Maybe American women should show less skin.

Posted by Randy | Report as abusive

Southern Baptists and other Christian sects here in the US may not (yet) be requiring their women to wear burqas or chadors, but their attitudes toward women are no different from those of Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere. After all, Christians put the full blame on women for the loss of paradise (Eden), Man’s immortality, and the source of all carnal desires, so let’s not get all puffed up about how sexist and backwards the Islamic countries are. Anyone who thinks our Christian sects aren’t just as sexist hasn’t read the Bible or attended church lately.

Posted by windrider | Report as abusive

In fact the modesty of Muslim women is in no way related to ‘power’ and ‘control’ issues of the male counterparts. This is apparent when you can find women in western or “free” societies displaying a modest dress in public. If one reads into the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, it states at (24:30) that modesty is better for both men and women. It is widely known and accepted that men are tempted by the appearance of women, and vice versa, so why would we not be instructed by God to be more modest. I in no way am supporting the burka or even the chaddor because the Qur’an only requires women to be modest, not hidden. The burka and chaddor are a remnant of a very ignorant culture that existed before Islam in these lands. I dare say it is more controlling when a person or society force these modest women to remove their veils against their free will (a qualifying component of ‘secular’ society).

Posted by Omer Hussain | Report as abusive

It’s strange how the Western mind works.. if a Muslim woman is wearing veil or burqa by her own consent its because men are forcing her and if a man is forcing a woman not to wear veil and forcing her to do this against her will and faith.. that woman is progressive and the man is liberal..

Posted by Sonny | Report as abusive

Bravo! It’s long overdue, and change is coming. The burqa is demeaning and totally unnecessary. It’s time Muslim men grew up, stop looking at women as chattels and be more respectful of themselves and women in general. Their barbaric attitutde towards women only serves their inflated egos and denigrates the society.

Posted by Jeanette Grayeb-Mihal | Report as abusive

don’t be so judgemental. its a cultural thing that even though you may not agree with it, you have to respect it and not say stupid and ignorant things like “maybe they’ll wear bikinis in another 2000 years!”ever think that maybe wearing bikinis is just as wrong an extreme as wearing a burqa? maybe if women had more respect for themselves they wouldn’t flaunt their bodies so much.for the record, i wear bikinis. my argument is simply to show that taunting them for not following your way of life is wrong.

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive

Lets let Muslim men walk around the desert all day in hot sun wearing a black fabric wrapped all around them and see how they feel.

Posted by Susie Que | Report as abusive

windrider: I am a woman who grew up in an evangelical Christian home; I certainly never got the message that woman were to blame for the first sin; in fact, Scripture refers to Adam as the one who brought sin into the world, though Eve does share the responsibility. I’m not sure what you refer to when you mention “Man’s immortality”. The “source of all carnal desires” is ourselves. Again, according to the Bible, we all seek to walk away from God’s moral commands. We are all responsible for our own disobedience and rebellion against God, and cannot blame any other person or sex.

Posted by yukoner | Report as abusive

windrider — Get a grip on reality. To compare Christian vs. Muslim sensibilities about women is beyond belief. When was the last time a Christian woman was stoned in the U.S. for adultry? Would any western woman think “no big diff” if plunked down in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Afghanistan and tried to live her normal daily life?!! What blather you speak!

Posted by Suzanne | Report as abusive

It surprises me how even in this day and age people can be so ignorant about a world religion. If you really care about making comments about Islam, try to spend some time understanding it!!

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

my dear windpasser: christians, specifically those who uphold covenant theology, acknowledge eve as she who first broke god’s command to eschew the fruit, but fully blame adam for the fall – see westminster confession of faith, three forms of unity, formula of concord, etc. you last read the bible and attended church when? :)

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

I think windrider needs to be careful, generalizing groups of people. While at first glance it may appear that the Bible places all blame on Eve for the loss of paradise, Adam made to choice to partake and is just as guilty as Eve. If a couple truely follows the Bible the wife will respect the Husband and the Husband will love his wife as Christ loved the Church, in that he is willing to give his life for her. When two people opperate with the other person’s best interests in mind it makes for a pretty equal and effective relationship.

Posted by Nole Sheets | Report as abusive

“Windrider” – may I say I have never heard such politically correct drivel outside of the pages of “The Guardian” in the UK (written by hypocritical self-serving lesbians mainly) or the BBC messageboards (ditto) ?Ask the women of Afghanistan if they’d like the freedoms the “southern baprtists” etc etc have, or would they prefer to remain the property of their men with no rights WHATSOEVER ?Its always different when YOU don’t have to live their life, pal.

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive

I don’t know where “windrider” lives or what church he/she is talking about, but my church (Episcopalian) is an all-inclusive one and we even have women in the pulpit!!

Posted by Nancy Traina | Report as abusive

In reality, there are many non-Catholic Christian churches in the US – yes, including Southern Baptist churches – which are run by female pastors and ministers. I agree this is not an issue of faith, but an issue of fear and a wish to control.

Posted by Julia | Report as abusive

windrider…you may wanna read Genesis again. The Bible doesn’t “blame” women for the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. The “full blame” is placed on Satan (where it belongs) for beguiling the woman. And we Christians aren’t sexist. God created men and women for different purposes. It’s that simple.And man’s immorality is MAN’s fault. By nature, (and God’s perfect design) men are physically attracted to women. It’s up to THEM to control that attraction. Not the woman’s fault.God loves ALL HIS children just the same. Man, woman, black, or white.

Posted by Keleri | Report as abusive

The day will come when all women in Eurabia will cover their faces in public. Europe cannot or perhaps will not stand against the Stealth Jihad!

Posted by Alber Crombie | Report as abusive

From their comment, it is very evident that ‘windrider’ has neither read The Holy Bible or attended church in their life. For they know not of what they speak.

Posted by John the Baptist | Report as abusive

Have YOU read the Bible lately? Attending church aside, the Bible preaches equality more than any other Abrahamic religion. Jesus Christ Himself preached more equality than any other man in His culture.Christians’ attitudes toward women are far different than those of Muslim men. I’ve never heard any Christian place blame for loss of Eden on the woman – it was Eve’s action, yes, but Adam’s inaction. Both man and woman are equally to blame, and so both share in the curse.

Posted by =David | Report as abusive

Apparently neither have you, windrider.

Posted by galefail | Report as abusive

Well, I’m a western woman living in South Asia in an overwhelmingly Islamic area the past 3 months and “no big diff”. I wear whatever I want. Some days I wear a t-shirt and jeans, other days salwar kameez. Some days I wear hijab, some days I don’t.Something else y’all need to think about; something important that has seemed to sail past everyone here. It’s that the women who cover WANT to cover – it’s not men forcing them to. Where I live, I see women wearing all sorts of clothing styles; from as western as anything you’d see in the US to niqab to full burqa and everything in between and all of these women and girls are Muslim. Having gotten to know many women over here, the fundamental truth is that’s their choice, and it should be respected.By the same token, those countries imposing some sort of requirement of women to wear the burqa need to also respect that there may be some women who interpret the command of Allah differently and who don’t feel the burqa is required of them. I think in those Islamic nations, culture has become confused with religious teaching.

Posted by Kim | Report as abusive

The hijab is not because man’s controlling woman It has another philosophy , It’s recommended for a woman in Quran to wear properly so she will not be abused by sick heart men, in addition to bible read Quran , just reading it will not make you muslim, be sure!By the way those worring about muslim women liberties please read followingWoman killed in courtroom bloodbath was pregnantPublished: 3 Jul 09 11:42 CETAccording to Egyptian newspapers, the woman was Marwa al-Sherbini, a 32-year-old Egyptian national who was suing her attacker after he insulted her for wearing the Islamic headscarf.…Online: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20090703 -20359.htmlhttp://www.thelocal.de/nation al/20090703-20359.html

Posted by lida | Report as abusive

Every religion, without exception, tries to hold people hostage to their natural sexual energies. The world will be a far better place as more people become educated and in touch with their real spiritual nature, and finally throw off the shackles and blinders of religion for good!

Posted by Kurt Risser | Report as abusive

So, Randy, the fact women “show skin” is the reason they are sexually assaulted and nothing to do with the rapist’s pathology? Hurm, blaming the victim, what an enlightened viewpoint, I can see you really thought about this. Also, can you provide accurate statistics on sexual assault in the Middle East? I ask, but of course you can’t, just like you can’t prove any sort of causal connection between sexual assaults and the manner in which the victim dresses.

Posted by Vic Sage | Report as abusive

“female pastors and ministers” like “Becky” from the “Jesus Camp” movie perhaps??

Posted by Alber Crombie | Report as abusive

Women in the Pulpit is better than “Boys” in the Rectory!

Posted by Alber Crombie | Report as abusive

@ Kurt Risser: I agree whole-heartedly. Faith/Spirituality is completely different from religion, which, in my opinion, is nothing but mind control.Also, those who think women should hide their bodies in order to not get raped — how about teaching men more self-control? If you cut off a hand for stealing, cut off his member for raping. Fair deal, imo.

Posted by raggedy | Report as abusive

I believe each person is responsible for their own actions and that they will ultimately answer for those actions. It is not the fault of the victim. It is the fault of the perpetrator in any crime or sin.My opinion is that people should be free to choose what clothes they want to wear. I also know that men were created with a desire for women. This desire is stimulated first visually. Some men under certain circumstances don’t have the self control necessary to contain themselves. Knowing this information, women should choose what they wear with wisdom. Would you stand in front of a hungry tiger holding raw meat and not expect to be attacked? NO!!! And who’s fault would it be when you were attacked? I say the tigers because it chose to go after the meat. But who was the fool? I say it was the person holding the meat.Oh, read your bible, the fall of the human race is squarely put on one man’s choice: Adam. Adam was not deceived by the serpent as Eve was and he chose to eat the forbidden fruit. The saving of the human race is squarely put on one man’s perfect sacrifice: Jesus. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the father but by me.” John 14:6

Posted by Randy | Report as abusive