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In the 21st century.. still here we are discussing about the rights of women, her moral and ethical standards, whether her dress sets her free or cages her.

Every day, every minute, every second something is happening. People are being born, marriages are taking place, banks are being robbed, accidents are taking place, scientists are discovering new drugs, men are enjoying ever growing rights but still life is the same for millions of women. Women aren’t allowed their basic rights in the name of family honour, what would the society say, they are still encapsulated by the narrow thinking of the society and age old traditions. A famous quote by Adam Swift says, “Women are making their choices from a menu of options that has been structured by men for men.”

40% of the girls in the age group of 15-18 are still denied education, as per a 2020 report. The World has never been in the favour of women, men have tried to suppress the women’s rights at every instance, make them feel inferior in the every possible manner. Countries all around the globe have their own restrictions imposed on women, denying them the right to vote, not allowing them to drive, participate in public affairs, etc.

The religions whether it be Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Islam or any other religion in the World subjugate the women even further. Hijab is one of those so called religious practices.

Hijab is a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women. Some call it as an indicator of they being a Muslim, their unique identity, but then why only women are subjected to this. Why not men?

Quran, the holy book of Islam nowhere explicitly mentions that women are expected to wear hijab. It just talks about both men and women dressing modestly. But the ‘superior’ men have interpreted it in their own ways that is satisfactory to them.

The question comes now whether banning Hijab emancipates or insults women?

Only one person has the right to take decisions about the woman’s life, her marriage, her dreams, her career, and that’s the woman herself. So the decision whether to wear hijab or not, should be vested to women. It’s their own personal choice, but we often see that this comes as a compulsion from their families, their husband and the society. The entire globe is affected by one common illness, and that’s what the people would say, how would the society react. This illness is rooted so deep in people’s mind that they can’t see the World with a clear and fair lens.

A.R. Rahman’s daughter, Khatija Rahman visits all public places wearing a hijab. Many people criticize this, and say ‘a girl with so modern thoughts and upbringing but still believes in such shallow practices’. With respect to the people of all faiths, beliefs, traditions.. it’s her personal choice, the hijab here emancipates her and we have no right to speak against her decision. But when it comes forth as a social obligation, at that time it’s an insult to the women, their choices, their rights and their freedom.

The recent controversy that has kept the entire nation hooked is ‘whether girls should be allowed to wear Hijab in school’. The controversy is that the schools have a basic uniform and all students are expected to adhere to it to build uniformity and the feeling of togetherness among the students. Girls wearing hijab to school breaks this sense of uniformity. The point put forth is that girls are here to be educated and break free from the shackles but hijab continues to undermine their existence. The other side to this is that why hijab is only becoming a point of debate? Sikhs wear turbans, Hindus wear thread on their hands, Hindu girls are allowed to wear bindis and bangles so why can’t Muslim girls wear Hijab? The latter question is part of a much wider debate, leaving a food for thought for all.

But still the main question of this discussion remains unanswered.. whether banning hijab emancipates or insults women? As discussed above, wearing hijab is a woman’s personal choice. If woman feel safe and experience a sense of comfort, then who are we to take this comfort from them and call it as an insult to them. The Constitution of India guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression to every individual. Freedom of speech and expression is not just about having the right to talk in public on various issues, but it also has the hidden right to allow individuals to express themselves through their clothes and persona.

It is true that a majority of girls are forced to wear hijab to schools so that the boys in the class don’t get lured by their beauty. Here banning hijab would emancipate them.

But one thing that needs to be kept in mind here is that, there are still so many girls who aren’t allowed to go to school due to the bondages of society, if wearing a hijab to school can guarantee them their basic right to education, then why take this right away from them.

This wouldn’t help in emancipating them but will keep them trapped forever. It’s true that the girls of this generation would again become a victim to social oppression, a prey to the male dominated society. But still we would be able to clear the road for the next generation. If girls today get education, the women of this generation would come out strong and bold, and they would never let themselves or their children especially girls be enslaved by the backward religious practices, old thinking and the bondages of narrow minded society.

Sow the seeds today, to reap the fruits tomorrow. Taking one step back today can take the society ten steps forward tomorrow. To get something you have to give up something, this is one of the basic principles that is rooted in the study of economics and it is true for all fields, all situations, all circumstances and all decisions. Trying to break free from the bondages spanning over decades takes time, but strength and determination can even fill this gap between men and women. So, hope now you have got the answer to the question.. whether banning hijab emancipates women or insults them.

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