61% of Pakistanis say women should dress as they wish: online survey

Published: January 14, 2014


In an online poll conducted by The Express Tribune, 61% of Pakistanis voted in favour of the statement that women should dress as they wish. 

The questions in the online poll were based on a survey by University of Michigan.

Earlier this month, University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center had published the results of a survey in which it had asked respondents from seven Muslim countries to identify an ‘appropriate’ dress for women to wear publicly.

Respondents were shown six head shots which showed women wearing a shuttlecock burka, a niqab, different forms of headscarves and one without any head covering.

The report revealed that 32% of Pakistanis believe the niqab is the most appropriate dress for women.

Also, only 22% of Pakistanis in the original survey voted that women should dress as they wish.

The Express Tribune ran some of the questions from University of Michigan’s report in an online poll and, over a period of five days, 2235 people responded.

Of these,  1692 (76%) of respondents were male.  74% were from Pakistan, 18% were Pakistani expatriates and 8% identified as ‘other’.

In comparison, University of Michigan’s survey polled 3,523 Pakistanis of whom 51% were male.

Survey results

Please note these polls are non-scientific, reflect only the online audience and can be manipulated.

In the online survey, the most popular option was Woman 6 with 39% of votes.

In the original survey, Woman 2 who is shown wearing the niqab was deemed the most appropriately dressed with 32% of votes.  Only 2% of the Pakistani respondents had voted for Woman 6 who is shown without any veil or head-covering.

According to University of Michigan’s report, in which respondents from Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Egypt Tunisia, Lebanon and Turkey were also polled, only the Lebanese respondents voted in the majority for Woman 6.

University of Michigan also had asked respondents if it should be up to women to dress as they wish. In their report, only 22% agreed with the statement (4% of Pakistanis strongly agreed with the statement and 18% agreed).

In Tribune’s online survey, 48% strongly agreed that women should dress as they wish and 13% agreed, with a total of 61% being in favour of the statement.

In the original survey, 8% of Pakistanis disagreed with the statement that women should always obey their husbands. In Tribune’s version of the survey, 43% disagreed with it.

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Reader Comments (61)

  • Dani
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:22PM

    A true follower will go as per the instructions not to his/her wishes.Recommend

  • Liberal
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:23PM

    The online survey represents only a certain stratum of society. The truth, however, sadly, is different.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:23PM

    Brings to mind : There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics.Recommend

  • Surprised
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:35PM

    isnt this country ‘Islamic Republic’ of Pakistan?Recommend

  • omer aslam
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:35PM

    haha you people are too funnny , :DRecommend

  • Rakesh
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:35PM

    so the discrepancy in the two results may be explained the bias in the audience of ET website… which is still concerning…Recommend

  • Jan 14, 2014 - 4:40PM

    I knew it! I believe Pakistanis are fairly liberal, I remember in the 70s we were one of the most liberal Muslim nations. It’s just the foreign occupation of America , and that idiot zia who ruined Pakistan. I still believe there is hope for pakistan to become a liberal societyRecommend

  • Iron hand
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:42PM

    This poll reflects what educated, English speaking Pakistanis who read relatively liberal media think – no surprise.Recommend

  • khurram
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:51PM

    My choice: women 5Recommend

  • Saj
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:53PM

    It would be good if Pakistan could follow the ‘Turkey model’. Recommend

  • waqas
    Jan 14, 2014 - 4:54PM

    online surveys do not depict realityRecommend

  • UrbanLahore
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:01PM

    The audience which normally visits sites such as ET are normally extremely well educated, socially progressive with a liberal mindset and are exposed to ideas from all over the world. The audience for most part are outward looking, accepting of change all while being confident of their religion, country, ethnicity, native tongue and so on. Such audiences are also firm believers in taking any positive influence from the outside world and combining them with what is native while ignoring parts that are bad. I know many people who live by the philosophy ‘live and let live’. This certainly is a country on the move.

    After going through the results of this survey, I must say I feel very happy and proud that there are like minded capable individuals whole will set the course of this country in the future, and boy does the future look bright.Recommend

  • Salmonz
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:13PM

    Even if ET readers survey only found 61% support a woman’s right to dress as she wishes to.. things must be really bad Recommend

  • Nikki
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:16PM

    Wishes are horses:
    Stupid survey…..no more issues in Pakistan?,what a dearth of research.Recommend

  • Ramem
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:30PM

    According to online polls, Pervez Musharraf should be president and Imran Khan should be the prime minister of Pakistan. It’s not even funny to make such a stupid and flawed survey the top headline of any newspaper. Shame on ET. :-(Recommend

  • hatim
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:30PM

    the non-scientific survey by the ET shows 2 things: what segment of Pakistan’s society reads ET and that ET considers this little survey worthy to serve as a headline.Recommend

  • Arsalan
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:34PM

    “A wife must always obey her husband.”
    This statement is used especially by Pakistanis to force sex upon their wives going so far as to engage in threesomes all the while threatening the woman with divorce.Recommend

  • Oops
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:38PM

    Did you take the view of Mullahs also ?Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:45PM

    Only 10% of pakistanis have access to internet…

    means that 90% people have not participated in it…Recommend

    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:48PM

    This means all western women have the fetish for going out semi naked. But why is University of Michigan so obsessed with this subject? Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Jan 14, 2014 - 5:48PM

    How do you know that only Pakistanis voted in the online survey? This is just rubbish.Recommend

  • Over Seas Pakistani
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:03PM

    Online surveys are NOT accurate, as the rich non-religious Liberal Minority is over represented. The people in villages and small towns in Pakistan do not take part in online surveys.

    Pakistan is a Muslim country and women should dress modestly.Recommend

  • Lovepk
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:03PM

    Useless Survey….Recommend

  • Inam
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:13PM

    Of course these online results can be manipulated, then why express tribune has published the doubtful information which may create a negative impact on the readers about Muslims.Recommend

  • Imran
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:15PM

    Lets not be delusional. The People who read Express Tribune English Website are mostly Liberal secularists who are a small minority in Pakistan. These people are also called “burgers”. So when you do online surveys in Pakistan, this minority is over represented. Majority of Pakistani society is still religiously minded and most of them don’t read English Language News websites.Recommend

  • Abdul Salam
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:25PM

    Online People don’t represent all the strata of society. If everyone (male & female) is allowed to wear (or eat or drink) what she/he wish,then where is the role of Islam?

    It is nothing but ridiculous.


  • Another Pakistani
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:38PM

    Only 61% of ET readers are sane.


  • A Statistician
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:45PM

    As a statistician I feel its scientifically inaccurate to label online polls as surveys and make hypothesis such as ‘x% Pakistani’s say’ something. There is clearly no background study done like for the UoM survey (if you read through the design of that study) nor any measures for the adjustment of bias and errors. This is a poll and no statement can be deduced from the results that has statistical evidence to back it up. This is misleading and I feel there was no need to publish this as a counter-statistic to the UoM study, from Tribune at the least.


  • Azhar Ul Hassan
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:45PM

    “Online” Survey – a huge bias!
    Results not a true depiction of the society’s thinking


  • Peace piece-by-piece
    Jan 14, 2014 - 6:54PM

    “In Tribune’s online survey, 48% strongly agreed that women should dress as they wish and 13% agreed, with a total of 61% being in favour of the statement.”
    Very heartening to note that the majority is in favor of dressing.Recommend

  • Peace piece-by-piece
    Jan 14, 2014 - 7:06PM

    Survey surveys opinion of educated elites with online facility. So how could it represent the views of the larger majority?Recommend

  • Jan 14, 2014 - 7:28PM

    Biased surveysRecommend

  • unbelievable
    Jan 14, 2014 - 7:33PM

    So how many of these 61% voting were women? It’s pretty sad when 39% of the most literate people in Pakistan think that women should put a bag over their head – tells you how far you have yet to go before you join the modern World.Recommend

  • Ali Asghar
    Jan 14, 2014 - 8:09PM
  • Danish
    Jan 14, 2014 - 8:10PM

    Online poll survey if conducted scientifically can lead to good results in countries where internet penetration is high. Unfortunately in Pakistan’s case the bias will be really high as only the middle class and upper class has internet access. I would suggest the Express Tribune should fund a proper scientific poll, maybe a cellphone based one with appropriate sample from all over Pakistan and then publish a proper rebuttal to University of Michigan survey or endorse its results. This kind of ad hoc polls will tarnish the reputation of the paper only.


  • afzaalkhan
    Jan 14, 2014 - 9:16PM

    Love the disclaimer by ET :)

    “Survey results

    Please note these polls are non-scientific, reflect only the online audience and can be manipulated.”

    How can ET claims it represents Pakistanis when anyone outside Pakistan from any country can click and vote. Come on ET have some journalistic integrity and publish my comment :)


  • Imran Ahmed
    Jan 14, 2014 - 9:17PM

    @Dani: And you will compel others to follow your beliefs? Where is the virtue in following instructions under compulsion? Where is the virtue in compelling others to follow the instructions of the one who instructs that there is no compulsion in faith?


  • Amir Mumtaz
    Jan 14, 2014 - 9:21PM

    Looks like you shared a family story and personal experience. I dont know how is it related to our society?


  • Trotsky
    Jan 14, 2014 - 9:35PM

    What world are we living in!. What clothes people are or aren’t wearing should not even be an issue of discussion. They rest of the world is making enormous strides in science and technology. When are people going to get off their backsides in this country, get out of this dark age and make some contribution to science and other fields of human endeavor.


  • just_someone
    Jan 14, 2014 - 9:43PM

    …Meanwhile, in the people educated in basic statistics are smashing their heads on the wall!Recommend

  • Zif
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:07PM

    Do you have to stereotype?


  • Ahmad Nasser
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:09PM

    What an idiotic exercise! What are you trying to prove? General population is backward but the online wizards belong to the modern world?


  • mehmood
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:24PM

    Survey was done either in Lahore Defence or Islamabad…Recommend

  • Dajjal
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:25PM

    “The report revealed that 32% of Pakistanis believe the niqab is the most appropriate dress for women.”

    Whereas the other 68% said that women shouldn’t wear anything at all…..it would make ogling them on the street much easier… and with clothes out of the way, molesting them wouldn’t take so long…Recommend

  • Np
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:27PM

    Onlime survey on an English newspaper is not representative since it only includes people who have access to internet and are proficient in English. Recommend

  • naeemhussain
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:31PM

    I do not believe that this survey was even conducted it is a effort to mislead people. Our religion has certain boundaries how to dress up both for men and women. Recommend

  • Np
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:35PM

    @Parvez: Not really. The original survey must have polled a representative sample which an online poll in an English newspaper branded as liberal – certainly is not. After all how many people speak English fluently in Pakistan and of those how many have access to internet?Recommend

  • Np
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:41PM

    @Nikki: This issue is a proxy to a woman’s empowerment – especially the last 2 questions i.e. whether a woman should have a right to choose what she wears and whether she is required to always obey her husband. Recommend

  • Np
    Jan 14, 2014 - 10:48PM

    @afzaalkhan: ET has already indicated that 74% of the poll results were from Pakistan. IT can definitely determine that accurately. Now it is possible that the 18% foreigners who claimed they were expat Pakistanis could in fact have some other heritage. But why would an Indian represent himself/herself as Pakistani in a survey like this? In hwat way would they benefit?Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jan 14, 2014 - 11:07PM

    Correction: 61% Pakistanis who can read, write, have access to the internet and read the express tribune on the world wide web think women should dress as they wish.

    Check out your survey methoodology. Recommend

  • Uzair
    Jan 14, 2014 - 11:34PM

    Your survey is online only. Which means folks replying to it are already liberally inclined. In other words your survey results are heavily biased towards more liberal point of view.Recommend

  • The real "Dani"
    Jan 15, 2014 - 2:29AM

    Yes it is true only well educated people visit ET but they are not all liberal and besides that if you only go to your nearest market you wont see that many niqabs, women are in dupatas(most of them dont even cover their heads unless its prayer time). i live in suburbs of Lahore (not defence) and i came back from my local market and didn’t spot a niqab there and its not only here i have been to cities and villages of Northern and Southern Punjab generally 3-4 out of 10 women wear niqab. Can’t say much about other provinces if their residents can give a better feedback on that and then we can analyse the real situation of our country.

    @Dani(fake) hey you stole my nick. I have been commenting on ET for a long time using that nick so go get a new one. All rights reserved for that one.


  • Amna
    Jan 15, 2014 - 3:11AM

    First of all I would just like to say that I think the survey isn’t about whether this should be implemented by the government or not. It is just people’s opinion.

    Secondly, how does agreeing with women not wearing any head covering implies that you think women can “wear whatever they want”? I don’t think most people would be agreeing with “anything”, rather only with the lack of head covering. I am sure the survey did not include whether women should be nude or clothed, so how can we say “wear anything”.


  • Radial
    Jan 15, 2014 - 6:19AM

    The real takeaway from this article is that 39% of ET’s readers think men should decide what women get to wear. Given ET’s English-speaking, affluent, urban Pakistani / expatriate readership, this is a shocking statistic.

    There is no comparison between the Michigan survey which used proper sampling based on demographic groups, gender etc and an ‘online survey’ on the website of ET. So comparing the results of these two are like comparing apples and oranges.


  • Osama
    Jan 15, 2014 - 7:59AM

    lol if you do survey through users of “Tribune website” so for sure you will get these results. In research it is called ‘Sampling error’ :)


  • Anoni
    Jan 15, 2014 - 9:26AM

    Burger people


    way to go for categorizing people


  • Wajih
    Jan 15, 2014 - 12:36PM

    Surveys by newspapers generally are not representative so they are not of much use. My objection to the one conducted by Michigan University as well as this one is that both of them did not mention chaddar and dopatta which is the most used headscarf in Pakistan and part of ladies attire in this region. The results of both surveys are incredible. The Michigan University survey said 87% Pakistanis support burga, hijab or niqab which despite the increasing Arabization of society does not seem to be correct when you go out and see common women folks in public. According to this one by the Express Tribune half of Pakistanis support women choice in dress which again does not seem to be correct. For example how many will support if a women of their families want to go out in bikini. Your guess as good as mine but will not be in whole number.


  • astorytounveil
    Jan 15, 2014 - 5:32PM

    where, exactly, was this stated? Are you saying that If women are given the right to dress as they wish they’ll probably walk around wearing nothing?


  • Jan 15, 2014 - 6:17PM

    How many Pakistani men would like same dressing for their wives, sisters and other women?


  • xor
    Jan 15, 2014 - 7:27PM

    The way ET twists and manipulate news, i highly doubt the figures of this survey.


  • truthbetold
    Jan 16, 2014 - 1:21AM

    “61% of Pakistanis say women should dress as they wish: online survey”

    It should have said 61% of the educated, computer literate and richer Pakistanis say women should dress as they wish.

    The important corollary hidden in this is the fact that 39% of these same class of Pakistanis support conservative Islamic dress. This is not good news. We all know that over 80% of Pakistanis on a broader cross-section of the population want strict Sharia and burka.


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