I guess I have to say, that I have not had any reason personally, to like, or to dislike them, and I am very much pro clothing choice for all of us. I don’t know why I feel the need to say that, but I do.
From reading the news, it seems to be an emotive subject, and it is something that is part of a way of life in the UK for a growing part of our population. It’s not an issue that we face much this far up north though. In my part of Aberdeen land we rarely ever come across any full face veil wearing. There has only been one woman who I can think of that we ever came across in the street, and it was an experience that I will never forget.
I have to tell you about that now, don’t I? Well, here goes.
On the way back from school , I was walking with the kids (middler was about 4 – 5 at the time, vocal, but no sense – as with many special needs children). Across the road from us, a tall woman wearing a full face veil with burka, and either a friend, or relative beside her began walking in line with us on the opposite pavement.
I have to say it was a totally unusual sight for my children, for whom it was the first encounter with a face veil. Middler began to gesticulate and shake with excitement, as his noise became more and more vocal. At the pitch of his voice, out he shouts (very loudly) “it’s batman.” Over and over, and over, and over. You get the gist. I am trying to shush him, try to tell him its is a woman under the clothes, but he is in full repetitive special needs mode. My face got redder and redder, and to my utter horror, the two women crossed the road to go into the street we were blocking.
As they walked past, I apologised. The woman in the burka seemed to take it in good spirit. Her friend spoke to her and laughed. I felt like wiping my brow as I felt like the worst mother in the world for not preparing my kids for the potential to meet a fully black cladded woman in the middle of the street.
When we got home, we then spent several hours over the next few weeks with middler – trying to convince him that the woman wasn’t batman, but just a woman.
We have never come across another woman wearing a full face veil. I have not had the opportunity to see how he will react when he next comes across some poor unsuspecting woman wearing one again.
It does lead on to the headscarf wearing. We do have several women locally who wear the headscarves. They are mostly very westernised and fashionable, and normally bright colours, and worn very cleverly to look nice.
There are two young girls who attend a sports class that two of my children do. They are lovely girls and always pleasant and courteous. One of the girls has reached the age of 11, and overnight she began to wear a headscarf. How to keep one on was not something that I had given much thought to before this. I just presumed that the headscarves were made so that they were comfortable and easy to wear and keep on, more like a one piece slip on thing.
I felt heart sorry for the eldest when her scarf slipped off while she was practicing her activities. The tears in her eyes when it fell off were clear, and I saw her go from a happy-go-lucky child to one who was stressed overnight. At the next session, she wore a scarf tightly wound round her face, and she was obviously uncomfortable with it on as it was a warm night.
Her little sister looked on in silence. She has not laughed at her sisters plight. She must see her own future. Asked whether she wanted to wear the scarf, or whether she had to wear it (as kids ask), she honestly said that she had to wear it. In what context that is meant, I am not sure, but the kids take it that she is being forced to wear it, and the sympathy for the situation she is in has been quite profound.
Never again will I look at a woman wearing a headscarf and just think it was an easy thing to do, or an easy thing to wear, or an easy way to live. Just to wear that one item of clothing, to keep the hair under wraps as they wish to, it obviously takes meticulous planning and organisation, as well as many, many clothing malfunctions to get right. It is like an extra right of passage, and from what I am seeing, as an outsider, not as easy a one to live with as I had naively imagined.