December 28, 2006

Veiled Threat

The veil controversy is globalising rapidly, and has now reached the western state of Maharashtra in India. This time the veil has drawn flak from the jewelery retailers in Pune. Struck with sizable heists totaling Rs. 150 million (about $3 million), the jewelers have threatened to stop serving veiled shoppers after January 1, if the police didn't do something about it.

Three of the recent heists were carried out by burqa-clad women who decamped with jewellery worth Rs.1 million from three stores in Raviwar Peth, the jewelley hub of Pune, last month alone. Stung by the larcenies, the association wrote to Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil to allow jewellers in Pune to put up 'no-burqa' policy outside their shops. To press their demand, Pune jewellers have decided to shut their stores Friday. The association has also set a deadline of Jan 1 for authorities to look into the matter, after which they said they will stop dealing with customers cloaked in veil.

The State Minority Commission Chairperson, Naseem Siddiqui, has taken exception to the move by the jewelers, contending that it infringed on the rights of women to dress as they wished. "We ask every community to condemn this decision. A woman has the right to wear anything she wants. She should be given the choice whether to wear a burqa or a jeans to shop," she has said.

I have agreed here and here. To veil or not to veil is certainly Naseem Siddiqui's, Jhansi Rani's — or, for that matter, Jack Straw's — choice and her/his choice alone. The jeweler has no right to demand that she should unveil herself anywhere.

That is, anywhere except in his shop, his office, or his home.

When you are under my roof, ma'am, you unveil by my rules. You are, of course, free to take your business elsewhere!

  1. Yes, the solution is rather simple and straightforward.

    But you'll notice how they invoke state intervention. The jewellers ask the state to ban, instead of just doing what they should to protect their interests.

    Did long years of Congress party rule do this to us, or are we like that only?

  2. Do what Saudi’s do. While Saudi wants every woman to be veiled in their kingdom but when it comes to security they want unveiled view of everyone no exceptions. We shall not confuse it with religion as if it was then Muslim women had to perform religious rituals veiled (presuming one had to be dressed most conservatively at the time).

    Jewelers should demand if you can go to Hajj or Umra without veil so do you can come to my shop :D.


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