Though I try to deny her existance, there is a dormant feminist in me, who reacted immediately, and adversely. And we try to delude ourselves that the nation is progressing, while what we are actually doing is regressing back to the Medivial Ages. Grrrrr, grrrrr, grrrrr [insert picture of snarling cat, clawing through the computer screen].
The first paragraph of the article only confirmed my reaction -
The Shahran market near Charminar has undergone a curious change in the last few years. A string of new shops that have surfaced in this bazar sell only burqas. From 20-odd shops in 2002, there are 80 burqa stores here and traders say business was never so good.
In what appears to be a reality check on the perception that women are stepping out of the burqa in Hyderabad, traders say that an increasing number of women, most of them young girls, are choosing to don the garment......
I always hoped that the generation of Muslim girls getting a good education would bring about a change in the mindset of the community, which would enable the economically backward community enter the social and economic mainstream of the nation. With better education leading to better job opportunities, Muslim youth would not longer be lured by the cheap promises of people supposedly fighting for the religion. In a generation, or a generation and a half, I dared hope for a natural end to terrorism and communal violence.
But here was proof that I was living in foolish daydream of my own construction. "The sale of burqas have never been as good". The words gnawed at my heart- could the year have started off on a worse note than by dashing one of my dreams? I was tempted to chuck the newspaper across the room, and think more positive thoughts.
While they say the reasons for this trend range from religious beliefs to some even trying to make a fashion statement, social observers say the improving sales of burqa are rooted in a radical change that the Old City is undergoing - an increasing emphasis on the education of girl child.
Things started falling into place. How did I know that there were so many Muslim girls attending the school near my place? Simply because their heads were covered. And if their heads were covered, they presumably bought their veils somewhere, and naturally that meant increased sales.
Suddenly the statistics started looking good. If the number of shops selling burqas has gone up four time, that means there are at least four times more girls stepping out of the house than there were a decade back. Which means a larger number of girls going in for higher studies, and taking up jobs outside the home. Which means social change on a scale that one cannot otherwise contemplate.
A feminist may still question why society should decree that a girl be veiled. A feminist would definitely try to get the veiled girl to shed the veil. But I am not a feminist. To me, it is enough that girls are stepping out of the home and getting an education. A veil matters much less than your attitude.
And educated, empowered girl will raise a healthier, happier family than her less educated mother, and enough of them will bring about real change.
There is Hope still.