No dress codes for Pakistani women

I did not realise the immense freedom that women have here until I visited a country in the Middle East.

Ishrat Ansari May 22, 2014

The freedom of wearing whatever you want, especially in a country where summer lasts for up to eight months a year, is one that is often taken for granted in Pakistan. I did not realise the immense freedom that women have here until I visited a country in the Middle East where a strict dress code is followed by most women. Pakistan is a country where women have options: they can go out covered from head to toe and also in Western outfits. The choice is theirs as no dress code has been imposed on them by the state. In Western countries, Muslim women often try to wear a hijab to maintain their identities, which often becomes a security issue in the wake of increasing xenophobia.

I was studying in Scotland when the London bombings took place on July 5, 2005. A wave of hatred spread against Muslims in the county just as the news broke out that British Muslims were behind the bombings. Women, particularly those wearing hijab, felt insecure as local people were seen to be spitting on some women wearing a scarf and pulling their scarves off their heads. One day, when I was standing at a bus stop to go to university, an old man pointing towards me said, “These are the people; they will burn this bus stop too!” I was speechless.

Whether Muslim women should be allowed to cover themselves from head to toe in public places has become a national issue in some countries. France has labelled the choice as a security issue and banned the wearing of hijab.  At least in our society, women, and even religious minorities, are not hated for what they wear. Many women drive and work alongside men while wearing an abaya and hijab. On this front, Pakistan is probably the only country that gives so much freedom to its women to dress up as they want, especially in the big cities.

I don’t know about other women but at least I feel blessed. I hope our country’s economic and law and order situation improves so that there won’t be any better place for women to live and work like Pakistan. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2014.


Rex Minor | 8 years ago | Reply

@Madam author and Abdullah Haider: Non sense and pure non sense. There are no restriction on men or women how they dress themselves. Those who fully clad themselves in public have met re criticismren , men or women, and because of security implications were banned in France. However, it is very difficult to implement, because of the women tourist from Arab countries who invade the Disney land with their children and go on shopping spree in Paris. Also there are French non muslim women who do not wear underclothes and when challenged by the police stand completely naked. Voila, the typical French legislation one of many which remain on paper but cannot be implemented. What the Europeans object to is the lack of will and commitment of non tourist to integration, madam,

Rex Minor

mshaiq | 8 years ago | Reply

Lady, you're delusional if you think this is freedom. The government may not have made hijab compulsory (yet) but Pakistani society, especially outside the posh areas of the main cities, frowns upon women who wear whatever they want.

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