Sunday 17 June 2007

Womens' clothing

June 13, 2007

Culture: Arab women

Yesterday I went shopping for a long shirt that would cover my toosh and arms. While shopping on Salah A din street in E. Jerusalem, I started to notice and look at the “fashions” of the Arab women and Christian women:

• The right Arab women, cover themselves from head to foot and corresponds to the women’s religion:
The term hijab or veil is a scarf worn around the head and under the chin. The hijab, is not used in the Qur'an to refer to an article of clothing for women or men, rather it refers to a spatial curtain that divides or provides privacy. The women did not reveal any of their hair along the front or the back. Their hair would be tucked into the scarf.

The women are also wear full-length body cover, abayah, jibob or chador. This is to produce modesty and protects them from sexual harassment, and helps to keep them from being viewed as sex objects. The women feel that they are following God’s commandments, and are dressing according to the standard of modesty.

They also feel that they are in continuance of tradition and do not mind being fully covered in loose clothing.

There are three basic rules:

God has given us three basic rules regarding the dress code of women:
(1) The best garment is the garment of righteousness,
(2) Whenever we dress, we should cover our chest (bosoms), and
(3) To lengthen our garment.

For women who want to enter into the professional and public and social lives (Muslim) it allows them to move into areas, which were once closed, to them.

While shopping I noticed many variations of fashions and closely observed their attire in the shops and what they were actually wearing. (I need to take photos of some of this)
Some women, dressed in the traditional black jibob, I am not sure why, but I know it is religious affiliated. Other women, wore long modern skirts, long sleeved blouses that were long near the center of their thighs. Some of the younger women wore modern long skirts, and long sleeved shirts that were not as long to their thighs, but underneath, they had a separate shirt tucked into their skirt.

It is important not to show your flesh. It is considered “haram”. Many of the women would wear a modern long skirt, with a fashionable belt wrapped around their waist, and brightly colored hijab. They matched, shoes, purses, and hiijab’s.

The Christian women, did not cover their head, but made sure that their stomachs did not show. They would also wear short-sleeved shirts, or sleeveless shirts. Skirts that went to the knees, but I did not view anyone with a mini skirt, or shorts…or revealing tank tops.

However, I did notice in the shops that there were many tank tops, backless shirts, mini skirts for sale. I thought that it was interesting that these would be in the stores at all. So I took another look at the crowd passing by me.

Girls in their 20’s would wear the mini skirts outside of jeans, and the halter tops, over a long sleeved cotton shirt.

As far as socially, the girls did inner mix. Women with hijab would be friends with those without. However, I do know that if I want to enter into a traditional refugee camp, I need to be covered. I can wear jeans, but with a long sleeved shirt that was also long covering my thighs.

The reason for this is that is creates a “stigma” for women, not fully covered and dressed modestly. For the women and the men, improper dressing is considered sluttish. The community will remember how immodest the woman was dressed and that stigma will be with her for the rest of her life.

I ended up buying a pretty green striped long blouse for my first meeting with the women.

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