Recently there has been a video being shared all over social media containing a young woman in niqaab presenting to the world her recent struggles with the way she chooses to present herself.
We were able to speak with the young scholar herself and ask her what happened exactly which prompted her to make the video expressing her feelings in the first place.
The student from Lahore, Farwa Munir, has accused Lahore Grammar School, Islamabad Branch of disrespecting her and not letting her participate in a Model UN event because of her veil
Farwa is a student of UMT Lahore. She has a tremendous list of accomplishments and distinctions that have enabled her to represent her knowledge on various occasions.
Farwa recounts the events in her video, sharing about the incident that led to LGS asking her to leave their event because of her niqaab
In the video she lists some of her accomplishments and shares how she’s active in extra curricular activities. One event she was recently invited to was the Model UN Conference at LGS in Islamabad. She was invited to serve as a chair of WHO (World Health Organization).
A hijabi's protestWhere are the people who strive for women rights….. Don't the Muslim hijabi's own those rights… Personally experiencing dogmatic norms of secular society I request you all to stand up with me and protest against this Naqab stigmaI am #ProudHijabi #WeNeedApologies
Gepostet von Farwa Munir am Samstag, 27. Oktober 2018
Farwa divulged, to MangoBaaz, further details of the conversation she had with the representatives of the event
She said that she had shared her photographs – where she was veiled – with the organizers before she went to the event in Islamabad but upon arriving in Islamabad on the day the event started she was asked to leave.
She had accepted the invite formally and made arrangements for travel and accommodation with the individuals that had reached out to her.
Farwa recalled the event, explaining how she remembered what happened with her on the day she was asked to leave without participating in the event
She said she was led to a canopy, when she arrived, and asked to take a seat, by the principal of the school, while a ride to her accommodation was being arranged. A woman that had not been formally introduced her interrogated Farwa in an unexpected and rude manner. The unidentified woman, Farwa later became to find out, was a Principal of one of the LGS branches in Lahore.
Before she knew it, she was being told the topic being discussed at hand was AIDS and HIV and that the topic would be difficult for her to navigate so the organizers would be abolishing the committee and that they could accommodate her by giving her the fare to go back home. Farwa tried to negotiate the terms of the topic and explained she could get her committee to refrain from discussing the matters in detail. She was told that wasn’t going to happen.
She says that as she was leaving the premises, she was made aware by students of LGS what the real reason of her being banned from the event was. The higher administration of the school had a problem with the way she physically presented herself. The fact that she was covered and wore a niqaab was the reason she was being sent home. Earlier, the coach of the Model UN Conference had mentioned to Farwa that LGS Islamabad is part of an LGS network in Lahore and their administration is present and that he administration of that particular branch in Lahore are the ones that have a problem with Farwa and the way she is dressed.
Despite being told that her committee at the Model UN is being abolished because the topics (AIDS and HIV) were difficult to navigate she says that the event is going forth with the same topics after removing her:
The agenda still included the very topics she was told were the reason her committee was being abolished for.
One of the team members from the organizers reached out to her after coming across her video and stood by her side, on this matter
She says that the said team member was also lied to and given the wrong information because the people that did not want her to participate wanted to hush the matter.
Farwa says that the reasons for her making a public statement and asking for the school’s apology is not for herself but to share how discrimination against women runs in all directions
She says she’s appalled by hypocrisy and double standards that schools like LGS are moving towards by championing tolerance but also discriminating against her for wearing a niqaab.
As a human, it is her right to choose what she wants to wear and how she wants to dress. If as a society we like to think we are moving in the right direction, we are giving our women freedom to dress how they like, to wear at jobs they see fit, to drive, and so much more, but if a woman chooses to wear whatever she deems fit we think it is okay to attack her for it.
Students of LGS reached out to Farwa to express their anger at their administration and their support for Farwa
There have been several recent cases of women in Pakistan sharing their grievances about being discriminated for what they chose to wear
An advertising agency in Karachi recently asked their CEO to step down after a veiled candidate was removed from her job because of her niqaab. Similarly, women in Lahore were barred entry into the Punjab Civil Secretariat after they were told they have to cover their heads with dupatta if they want to enter the office building.
What is the perfect dress code for women to be left in peace? Don't comment below.
Dawn editorial cartoon
Sunday, 21 October 2018 pic.twitter.com/lcVDEmv7my
— Reem Khurshid (@ReemKhurshid) October 21, 2018
Interestingly, policing women’s clothing and bodies isn’t just a Pakistani problem. In France, there was a huge controversy after women were asked to stop wearing the burkini at the beach because French culture was to wear bikinis only. Rulings over banning hijabs have also plagued several European countries.
Why do people feel it’s okay to try and police what a woman chooses to wear?
Cover image via Farwa Munir