As a Pakistani Muslim-American, I can attest to the countless times I’ve heard someone talk about how women should dress more modest in order to prevent any form of sexual abuse and/or assault.
Although I’ve heard it over and over, it shocks me every single time. Dressing modest is not a guaranteed protection from innuendo or rape — and when it happens, it is not the fault of that woman OR the clothing she chose to wear that day.
The only one who should ever be held accountable is the aggressor. When I was growing up, I remember seeing certain cartoons and movies that would make these very [sensually] pestering personalities acceptable to viewers, especially younger ones who at the time were still trying to figure out how these interactions between opposite genders should be. Do you remember Pepe le Pew, the cartoon skunk who would chase after Penelope Pussycat in an overly amorous way?
Sometimes, media really is to blame when it comes to what we feed our brains to be seen as acceptable. In many ways, it has allowed us to welcome the sexual feel in which men interact with women, making unwanted comments and even unwanted moves. This is where Islam comes into the picture. While a lot of individuals view religion as backwards, there is no denying in the fact that ALL religions give guidelines and suggestions on how men and women should interact and what kind of behavior they should present towards each other. The hijab/head scarf is not a guaranteed protection from any kind of sexual assault. However, it is a symbol of freedom and expression. It is giving a woman the freedom to practice one aspect of her religion without any fears attached. Although some may disagree, in many ways, it is an outward expression of the inner modesty a woman works on manifesting and increasing. And contrary to popular belief, there is a hijab for men, too — before God shares that women should guard their modesty, the Almighty asks men to do so. In the Qur’an [24:30]: “Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.”
I know of women who wear the hijab and some who even wear the jilbab/abayah, and have been sexually assaulted by men who range from family friends to well-respected community members.
Don’t be a woman who makes another woman’s dress an excuse for fellow men to justify their unacceptable behaviors and actions — just to take the (rightly deserved) pressure of accountability and responsibility off their shoulders.
Avoid complacency and social comfort. Challenge the narrative.