Lifting the headscarf ban

Whether the army, the university rectors or the opposition want it or not, I don’t think the ban on wearing headscarves at university will survive much longer. The ruling AK Parti is working on a new constitution to replace the one made by the army when it ruled in the early 1980’s. Part of it will, as all the signs show, lift the ban on headscarves in universities. Among other things, the constitution will give the democratic principles of the state a more solid ground, and will for example also give more rights to minorities (like the right to teach Kurdish in state schools) and more legal rights for individual citizens.
But for now, the discussion is about the headscarf, once again. Prime Minister Erdogan states that it is not right that the possibility of a woman going to university should depend on what she wears. In European countries, he says, this is not a problem, so why should it be in Turkey? There is a difference between Turkey and, let’s say, Italy, the Netherlands or Germany: in Turkey, around 60% of the women wear a headscarf. What will happen when around half of the women at university come to class covered?, the opposition asks. They think that uncovered women feel pressured by it, and feel they have to cover themselves too.
It’s an interesting discussion. But somehow, the self proclaimed defenders of women’s rights underestimate women. As if a woman who never wanted to cover herself would so easily be pressured into wearing a scarf. Most women here are stronger then that. And when the headscarf is allowed, who says it will not have the opposite effect: wearing one can then no longer be used as sort of a ‘statement’, like some women use it for now.
I can’t wait to see what will happen if the headscarf ban is lifted. Or rather when the headscarf ban is lifted. For it will be, sooner or later. And then we will see whether women will be strong enough to follow their own beliefs. I’m not too worried.

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