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France, Yemen: Vanishing Women

Disparition by Bouchra Almutawakel

“Disparition” by Yemeni photographer Bushra Almutawakel

Eloïse Lagrenée [fr] has posted on her Facebook page a picture by Yemeni photographer Bushra Almutawakel, illustrating how women could vanish into darkness and invisibility, step by step, under fundamentalist pressure and the full niqab. It has been shared over 1,500 times.


  • KD

    Is there a reason why the woman/child start out smiling, and their faces get markedly sadder as they get more covered up? Because there are women that wear the black coverings quite happily. They throw them on as they run out the door, whip them off when they get to their destination, etc., etc. Putting them on isn’t like they put on a scowl at the same time. This collage would have been less “prejudicial” (biased) if the woman and her child’s expressions had remained the same throughout all of the photos.

  • majid

    what will happen if a person Continued this from left? woman wiil be Nude and vanished again. Be moderate. like the first pic

    • JP

      The underlying issue is still women’s freedom and its relationship to culture. Cultural relativism or the idea that a given practice is OK because it’s their culture, has been an excuse for the subjugation of women for centuries. All customs are not equal simply because they exist. Foot binding in China for, example, was acceptable in China until they understood as a society, that it was a negative practice.
      We all have a long way to go before there is true gender and racial equality, but the thought that some societies are not further along the road is patently ridiculous.

  • Mo

    No, I think you missed the point. This woman and this child did not want to cover this much, they are being forced, and thus their happiness is stolen from them. That is point of this collage – but I would never call this art work.

    • Ana

      Agree Mo.This photo’s where taken with the idea of making a point..And that it did…

  • disqus_0ci0DrquAK

    Most women do not have a real “choice” as to whether to cover up, or not. If their culture mandates it and the men in their family / village expect it, then she really has little choice.

    The key issue here is not about modesty and dressing moderately – it’s about allowing women to be their own free agents to make their own choices, and not make WOMEN responsible for managing the fact that muslim men are apparently blameless and not expected to control their impulsive sexual urges (this is the whole justification for niqab/burqa/purdah in the first place) – if a man is lustfully attracted to a woman, muslim culture apparently believes that it’s HER fault and therefore HER job to do something about it. This is the injustice of niqab/burqa/purdah.

  • Michael Murphy

    My god, the kind of specious garbage being represented below would be awful coming from a man, but coming from a woman it’s unforgivable. Why on earth would the first thing that Claire Sale says be that *some* women choose to wear this? I won’t get into the relative merits of accuracy or whatever as this is nonsense. It’s not intended to be an accurate representation, it’s a metaphor. A clumsy one but a sincere one from a woman directly affected. Good enough for me.
    The real question is why do these garments exist at all??! Why on earth would anyone support a human being covering themselves up like this? Unless they had some kind of mental illness. Related as it is to male dominated theocracies makes a lie of the ‘reasoning’ that it’s a choice for ‘some women’. Fine, when we get to a point where there are a very few women (and men I suppose as equality should be taken into account) who want for whatever reason to do this very uncomfortable, socially exclusive, divisive and ugly thing (the human face and body being a beautiful thing) then I say ‘fine, let them’. As we stand now most of the women who do this are directly or indirectly threatened into wearing varieties of this and no amount of Western women bleating about ‘choice’ is going to change that. Wake up and support our sisters!

  • Rosita

    Does anyone care about what a man wears?

    • Dean McInerney

      Yes, if they were forced to hide their faces or become invisible I would respond negatively. It’s creepy.

    • Dawn

      Muslim faith does. There are standards for modest dress for both sexes.

      Side note: The abaya isn’t a Muslim standard in and of itself, but one interpretation of the religion which is disagreed with by other people in the faith.

  • The AdMan

    This is not completely accurate. Please watch the clip: a point of view from an actual ‘Niqabi’, who chooses and insists on wearing the Niqab.

    • Shlomo Amar

      Free choice? Not at all ,it is a peer pressure situations. Whats happen when a women choose not to wearing ‘Niqabi’?

    • Unavaran

      The net is full of such such debates. Want to lose a debate? Get a not so intelligent or vocal person to take on a smart person. NDTV, TIMES NOW, HL TODAY etc. have all been doing this for years!

      The premise on which this debate gets going itself is faulty. To save muslim women in France from a debasing slavish tradition. Who the hell cares! If the Muslim women want to be slaves, they are welcome to be, IN THEIR OWN MUSLIM LAND. The French should say, this is our land, our country, our nation. Fall in heel or GET OUT. Including those french who have converted to Islam. All this “secular” stuff is toxic garbage. Once inside the system, impossible to take out.

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