Women are always the target of religious restrictions around the world. When talking of clothing also, the women are the most censured and these could take the form of social harassment. A new study by PEW Research centre claims that religious restrictions with respect to women’s dress increased in the last five years.
The study said that women in 56 countries experienced social harassment because of clothing that was said to violate religious or secular norms. The researchers held the study in 198 countries. Social harassment ranged from verbal abuse to physical violence and even killings.
The PEW Research Centre noted women in 61 countries faced government restrictions on their dress, especially regarding their head coverings.
The report pointed out that women in 42 of the 56 countries where social harassment took place between 2016 and 2018 got targeted for violating secular dress norms like wearing a hijab or other religious dress. In 19 countries, the report said that they were harassed for not adhering to religious dress codes. It also noted that women in India, Indonesia, Germany, Russia and Israel experienced both types of harassment.
In region wise, the Pew Centre said Europe had the most countries where women faced social harassment for violating dress norms. It said that 44 per cent of the countries recorded such harassment. In all of the cases, Muslim women faced discrimination, physical violence and other forms of abuse for wearing head coverings.
The report pointed out that Asia-Pacific region had the second most countries that reported harassment. It said that 28 per cent of the countries in the region witnessed such incidents. In 10 countries in the region, women were harassed for the dress that was deemed too religious. In six countries, the women experienced such incidents for clothing that was too secular. Women in India and Indonesia faced both types of harassment.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women in four countries were harassed for violating secular dress codes. In three countries, they faced harassment for violating religious dress codes.
In the Americas, all instances of harassment were against women who dressed too religious. The women in majority of the countries in Middle East and North Africa saw harassment for secular attire.
Official rules regarding religious symbols like wearing hijabs for women and beards for men are another form of religious restriction. Al the regions surveyed had some form of restriction or rules. In Europe, majority of the countries had restrictions on head coverings by women. In Norway, the government had banned face-covering clothes at educational institutions. They also banned religious headwear and other religious symbols from being worn with police uniforms.