Home Global Compass Tajikistan’s Hijab Ban: A Complex Intersection Of Tradition, Choice, And State Influence

Tajikistan’s Hijab Ban: A Complex Intersection Of Tradition, Choice, And State Influence

In this in-depth interview, former diplomat Bhaswati Mukherjee explores the complexities surrounding Tajikistan’s decision to abolish the hijab. This policy shift is particularly significant in a nation where 90% of the population is Muslim. Mukherjee provides historical and cultural context, explaining that Tajikistan’s deeply entrenched tribal customs have never aligned with extremist or fundamentalist views. The hijab, she notes, does not fit into traditional Tajik attire, which features distinctive headgear for both men and women.

Mukherjee advocates for women’s freedom to choose their dress while stressing the importance of understanding the historical and cultural significance of different clothing. She shares a compelling anecdote about a colleague who faced severe consequences for inappropriate dress in conservative Libya, underscoring the need for cultural sensitivity and safety.

While Mukherjee supports the idea of educating women about the implications of wearing a hijab, she opposes the government’s decision to ban it outright through a diktat. She emphasizes that such changes should come through education and informed choice, rather than enforcement. Drawing on her experiences in various Muslim countries, she highlights the importance of respecting local customs while advocating for progressive values.

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The conversation also delves into the broader issue of state intervention in women’s rights. Mukherjee contrasts Tajikistan’s approach with the oppressive laws in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, where women are denied basic freedoms and education. She acknowledges the complexities involved in balancing tradition, choice, and state influence, and calls for a nuanced approach that empowers women while respecting cultural contexts.

This interview and Mukherjee’s insights provide a comprehensive understanding of the intricate issues at play in Tajikistan’s hijab ban, offering valuable perspectives on the intersection of tradition, modernity, and women’s rights. Do like and share the video!