In the latest attempt to push a decidedly right-wing agenda in the guise of women’s empowerment, the Karnataka State Education Department has declared a ban on wearing hijabs in the classroom.
“In a directive validating decisions of state education institutions prohibiting Muslim girl students from wearing the hijab (headscarf), the Karnataka government said Saturday that clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn”, reported the Indian Express.
They further added, “The ban on wearing the hijab to classrooms, according to the state government, is not a violation of the fundamental right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. Invoking Section 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, the order by Padmini SN of the education department (pre-university) stated that students will have to wear the dress chosen by the college development committee or the appellate committee of the administrative board of pre-university colleges which come under the pre-university education department. In the event of the administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity, and public law and order should not be worn.”
Protests have sparked across the state and the matter is to be heard in front of the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday.
The hijab ban directive that is being backed by the Karnataka government once again brings to light the inherent islamophobia that has been in the works this past decade that is often masked behind words like equality and concern for women’s freedom.
If women were not merely pawns in the administration’s need to propagate an agenda they would have considered the countless Muslim women who will be denied access to education if the ban comes to effect.
The fact is that India very much still operates in entrenched patriarchal structures where families direct whether women are allowed to enter spaces or not. This directive will further curb Muslim women’s freedom in Karnataka and severely limits their access to educational institutes.
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