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Syria: Petition Urging Men to “Cover Up” Launched

Syrian blogger Omniya [Ar] has heard enough about people ordering her to cover up and that women are to blame for falling victims to sexual harassment. Now is her turn to launch a campaign calling for men to cover up and lower their gaze.

She explains her reasoning behind launching the campaign as follows:

مفردة التعري أصبحت ملازمة للفتاة التي قررت لأي سبب كان أن تتخلى عن اللباس الموحد الذي يلتزم به مجتمع ما ، كل مجتمع يعتقد أنه بهذا اللباس الذي فرضه قد قام بصورة أو أخرى بتنفيذ أمر الله في آيته الكريمة التي تخص الحجاب. هو لباس موحد حرفيا يدخل في أدق التفاصيل حتى في لون الجوارب التي يجب أن نرتديها والحذاء. و أذكر هنا بقهر إدارة مدرسة في دمشق رفضت تعييني ، لأني رفضت لبس الجوارب” الشرعية ” والخفافة السوداء أثناء الدوام المدرسي!!!! متذرعين أنهم لا يريدون للطلاب أن تفرق معلمة عن أخرى.
يتغير معنى هذه المفردة من شخص/ة لأخر . هناك من يعتقد أن مجرد” كشف الرأس ” هو تعري.
The word naked/nude has become synonymous to any woman who has decided, for any reason, not to adhere to the common costume worn by society. Every society believes that the dress code it imposes in one way or another implements the the order of Allah in the Quranic verse on the Hijab (Islamic headscarf for women). This is a unified code of dress, where all details are taken care of, down to the colour of the stockings and shoes you wear. I recall with fury how I was refused a job in a Damascus school because I refused to wear the Shariah-compliant black stockings while at school. The school's excuse was that it didn't want the students to differentiate between teachers. This idea differs from one person to the other. There are some who believe that exposing the hair is nudity.

Omniya explains how the Shariah (Islamic law) complaint dress code changes from one country to the other:

كنت في بداية عشرينيتي أظن أن اللباس الذي استيقظت عليه عيناي منذ صغري، والذي تلتزم فيه معظم الفتيات في دمشق حاليا هو اللباس الصحيح المذكور في القرآن. ولكن عند خروجي من دمشق صدمت عندما رأيت اختلاف اللباس الشرعي من مجتمع لآخر ومن بلد لأخر.في مصر مثلا ، الحجاب يعني أن يكون غطاء الرأس طويلا بحيث يقوم بتغطية الجزء الأعلى من الجسم حتى الخصر. وهم يستغربن لبسنا للمعطف الذي ندعوه “المانطو ” هنا في سوريا ، و عني استغربت هذا الطول حتى قامت احداهن بش بالتعليل.في الأردن نظام الحجاب يلتزم بمفردات الآية “الجلباب” أي يجب أن تكون الياقة عاليا لتغلق أو تستر على الرقبة ويأتي “الشيلة ” من الأعلى بشكل دائري حول الوجه. في تونس وبسبب منع الحجاب ، فأن الحجاب يوضع بشكل تظهر في الرقبة والشعر. في الكويت ، اللباس الموحد هو العباية الفضفاضة و غطاء الوجه كاملا، حتى العينين.
In my early twenties, I thought that the dress code I was raised on, and the one most of the girls in Damascus follow, is the dress code stipulated by the Quran. After I left Damascus, I was shocked when I saw how Shariah-compliant dress codes changed from one society to the other and from one country to the next. In Egypt, for instance, the Hijab means that the head cover is long enough to cover the top part of the woman's body, down to her sides. They are surprised at the long jacket we wear here in Syria. In Jordan, the Hijab means covering the entire body with a robe which covers the neck and a scarf which goes in a circular motion around the head. Because of the anti-Hijab law in Tunisia, those wearing it, show their neck and hair, while in Kuwait, the uniform dress code is a loose Abaya (cloak), and a complete cover on the face, which also covers the eyes.

Not covering up, argues Omniya, exposes women and girls to sexual harassment:

عني كأنثى مسلمة، السبب الرئيسي في ارتدائي الحجاب كان أولا وأخرا شعوري بالذنب كلما تعرضت للتحرش الجنسي المباشر او بالكلام في الباصات او المكيرو أو في الشارع . الفكرة السائدة حتى لآن أن الفتاة( كائن ما يكون شكلها) هي المسبب الرئيسي بجعل الذكر يتحرش بها. و إلى الآن ورغم اقتناعي التام أن لا ذنب لي ، فأني اشعر بالذنب عند خروجي بكامل زينيتي و السير بالشارع لأنتهي بكلام التلطيش على طول الطريق .
As for me as a Muslim woman, the main reason why I wore the Hijab was mainly because I felt guilty every time I was sexually harassed directly or verbally, on the bus or shared taxi or even on the street. The widespread idea until today is that the girl (however she may look) is the main reason why she would be sexually harassed. And this is why, even though I am no longer convinced that I am to be blamed, I still feel the guilty when I leave the house dressed up in a manner which showcases my beauty, and get verbally assaulted as I walk down the street.

If that is the case, argues Omniya, why are women who are not considered as beautiful also harassed?

ذكرت مفردة ( كائن ما يكون شكلها) رغم قرفي لهذه المفردة ، لأن المفروض أن الشاب يثار جنسيا في حال مرور أمامه فتاة جميلة ، فلا يمسك نفسه و يتحرش بها، صح؟ طيب في حال أن الفتاة لم تكن جميلة أي أنها لا تثير من يقابلها فلم يتم التحرش بها؟
I have used the phrase (however she may look) despite my despise for it, because in reality a man is sexually aroused when he comes across a beautiful girl and he can't hold himself back and harasses her, right? If that is the case, why do they then harass women who are not beautiful?
النقطة التي أريد بصقها بوجه كل من يقوم بالتحرش، هي أن الشاب أولا واخرا لم يثار من مجرد مرور الفتاة أمامه، هو أصلا خرج من بيته مثارا بعد قضائه الليل بطوله على الأفلام الجنسية ، يرى ما يرى و يمارس ما يمارس مع نفسه او مع الحائط . ومن ثم يلتصق بأول من تخرج بوجهه في الميكرو أو في موقف الباص ليس لأنها أثارته بجمالها الفتان أو بتعريها أو بعفتها ولكن لأنه هو بيده يثير نفسه يوميا، فلم تلومون الفتيات يا سادة؟ لم لا تلومون أنفسكم.؟
هذه الفتاة التي خرجت بوجهك ليست التي كانت ترقص وتخلع منذ قليل على الشاشة!!
The point I want to spit out in the face of all those who harass women is that men are not aroused simply when a girl passes in front of them. They actually leave their homes aroused, after spending their nights watching adult movies, seeing what they see and doing what they do to themselves or the wall. They then attach themselves to the first woman who comes out of the shared taxi or bus, not because she had aroused him with her beauty or her nudity or her chastity but because he had already aroused himself with his own hands. Why do you then blame women? Why don't you blame yourselves? This girl you came across wasn't the girl who was dancing and taking off her clothes on the television screen a few minutes ago!!!
ثانيا ، لم يعد والحمد لله من هم في عقول الشباب الذكور منهم والأناث سوى أداء فريضة الحجاب . يعني باقي الفرائض مش مهمة ، نحنا انشالله حندخل الجنة وهموم الأمة ستحل و القدس ستحرر، كل هذا مربوط بسترة البنات.
Secondly, there doesn't seem to be any concern in the minds of men and women other than fulfilling the Hijab order. This means that the remaining rituals (of Islam) are not important and we will all go to heaven by the will of God, solve the problems of our society and liberate Jerusalem – but all that is related to the chastity of our women.
تعثرت أمس بهذه الحملة ، (ِشارع آمن للجميع!!)هذه ليست المرة الأولى التي اقرأ فيها عن هذا النوع من الحملات . شباب مصر و دول الخليج وشاشات القنوات الفضائية مستنفرة بهذه القضية . شعرت بالحنق في عروقي لأن هذه النوع من الحملات وصل لسوريا والحمد لله . أذكر السنة الماضية توارد صفحات الأخبار لتعرض عدة فتيات مرتديات للجينز في شوراع دمشق للرش “بمية النار” على أرجلهن .هذا الجنون توقف لا أعلم لماذا!
Yesterday I came across this campaign entitled a Safe Street for All, and this isn't the first time I read about such initiatives. Young people in Egypt, the Gulf and all over television are mobilising their forces for this cause. I felt elated that such a campaign has found its way to Syria and thank God for that. I remember the previous year, there was news in the papers that some girls wearing jeans were attacked on the streets of Damascus with “fire water” which was splashed on their legs. This madness was stopped and I don't know why!
هنا أصل إلى مرداي من هذه التدوينة، ” من أجل شارع آمن للجميع وبما أني وحدة من الجميع و بحب أمشي بالشارع..لماذا ليس هناك حملات تدعو الشباب “السافر”للتستر أيضا ؟ لماذا هذه الحملات تقتصر على البنات فقط ؟ لم لا تقوم الشاشات بمهاجمة الشباب الذين يخرجن على أكمل زينة ؟ ألم تنزل الآية على المؤمنين والمؤمنات؟ أين اللباس الموحد الشرعي للشباب؟ لم لا يفرض عليهم تطويل القميص و لبس الجورب الشرعي والحذاء الأسود؟ ألا تنظر الفتاة أيضا؟ ألا تشتهي؟ لم لا تمسك مجموعة بنات بأبر “مية نار” أيضا وترش على كل شاب يمر أمامها ممن يلبسن التي شيرت و الجينز الضيق في الشعلان و الحمرا؟
This is where I get to the point of this post. For the sake of a street safe for all, and as I am one of all, and love to walk on the street, why are there no campaigns asking men who expose their bodies to cover up as well? Why are those campaigns restricted to girls only? Why don't television stations attack men who leave their homes looking handsome? Doesn't the verse from the Quran refer to both men and women? Where is the unified Shariah-compliant dress for men? Why don't they have longer shirts, and a Shariah-compliant socks and black shoes imposed on them? Don't girls have eyes too? And don't they get lustful? Why don't girls carry injections with ‘fire water’ in them and spray men who pass by them wearing jeans and tight t-shirts?

Taking it a step further, Omniya, launches a petition here, and urges all her readers to sign it. The petition says:

Since females in the Arab region should wear a special uniform, since there are dozens of petitions asking females to cover themselves from top to toe, I think that arab men should do the same.

15 comments

  • Amina’s actually wrong when she says

    “They actually leave their homes aroused, after spending their nights watching adult movies […]”.

    Fact is that in countries where porn is legal the rates of harassment and rape are lower.

    (Still she’s of course right saying it’s the men’s fault, not the women’s)

  • Thanks Amira for turning the link I sent into an article..
    just a little correction,
    the blogger’s name is “Omniya” أمنية not “Amina” أمينة

  • Thank you Anas for the link. And sorry about the name :(

  • haha – yes, lets cover up the men already!

  • You think so ;)

  • i totally suport Omniya on this!!! go girl go!!

  • […] Voices Online sheds some light on a Syrian woman’s campaign to get men to “cover up and lower their […]

  • Salam Amira
    i’ve just realized that the petition was added here.
    i appreaciate your time in translating it.
    i should say that your translation has done a great favour to the article.
    i felt while reading it in eng that the vocabs used in here are more strong and convincing than my own words!
    check it , i’ve got 4 sugnitures! and i’m really proud that there are four people who agree with me.
    http://www.gopetition.com/online/21454/signatures.html

    Regards

    Anas: thanks again.

  • The pleasure was mine Omniya :)
    All the best with the campaign.
    And sorry I mixed up your name. Blame it on translating in the dark!

  • I’m not sure about the campaign. Being both a Muslim and a feminist, I find it by making men cover up head to toe and lower their gaze, in other words victimising and stripping away their rights, defeats the purpose of the betterment for both women and men. As much as sexual harassment angers me and many, many women, it’s the not way to go. There needs to be some kind of sexual education in schools where teenage boys can learn a thing or two and some respect about women. Perhaps learning about what happens during childbirth or effects of STDs or something – anything really – to give men especially a reality check about sex – it’s not all about porn fantasies and decadence!

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