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Purdah or Pardaa ( , , literally meaning "curtain") is the practice of preventing women from being seen by men. This takes two forms: physical segregation of the sexes, and the requirement for women to cover their bodies and conceal their form. Purdah exists in various forms in the Islamic world and among Hindu women in parts of Indiamarker.

In the Muslim world, preventing women from being seen by men is closely linked to the concept of Namus.Werner Schiffauer, "Die Gewalt der Ehre. Erklärungen zu einem deutsch-türkischen Sexualkonflikt." ("The Force of the Honour"), Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main, 1983. ISBN 3-518-37394-3.

Namus is an ethical category, a virtue, in Middle Eastern Muslim patriarchal character. It is a strongly gender-specific category of relations within a family described in terms of honor, attention, respect/respectability, and modesty. The term is often translated as "honor".Werner Schiffauer, "Die Gewalt der Ehre. Erklärungen zu einem deutsch-türkischen Sexualkonflikt." ("The Force of the Honour"), Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main, 1983. ISBN 3-518-37394-3.

Means

Physical segregation within a building can be done with walls, curtains, and screens. A woman's withdrawal into purdah restricts her personal, social and economic activities outside her home. The usual purdah garment worn is a burqa, which may or may not include a yashmak, a veil to conceal the face. The eyes may or may not be exposed.

Purdah was rigorously observed under the Taliban in Afghanistanmarker, where women had to observe complete purdah at all times when they were in public. Only close male family members and other women were allowed to see them out of purdah. In other societies, purdah is often only practised during certain times of religious significance.

In historically Islamic Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabiamarker, purdah is a custom with cultural rather than religious basis. Even in the United Arab Emiratesmarker, where women can wear skirts and similar modest garments, Arab women often observe purdah. It is important to differentiate between purdah and hijab. Hijab is an Islamic tradition that is based on physical and psychological morality, while purdah does not necessarily conform to Islamic teachings.

Criticism

Criticism of purdah has occurred historically. Purdah was criticised from within its community, for example in the 1905 story entitled The Sultana's Dream, by Bengali feminist Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain. Bhimrao Ambedkar, a social reformer and the chief architect of the Constitution of India, imputed many evils existing among the Muslims of colonial-era India to the system of purdah in his 1946 book Pakistan, or The Partition of India, saying that women lack "mental nourishment" by being isolated and that purdah harms the sexual morals of society as a whole.

See also



Notes

Silver zenana carriage for Hindu women
  1. World faiths, Teach yourself - Islam. By Ruqaiyyah Maqsood. ISBN: 0-340-60901-X. Page 154.
  2. Dilek Cindoglu, "Virginity tests and artificial virginity in modern Turkish medicine," pp. 215–228, in Women and sexuality in Muslim societies, P. Ýlkkaracan (Ed.), Women for Women’s Human Rights, Istanbul, 2000.
  3. Dilek Cindoglu, "Virginity tests and artificial virginity in modern Turkish medicine," pp. 215–228, in Women and sexuality in Muslim societies, P. Ýlkkaracan (Ed.), Women for Women’s Human Rights, Istanbul, 2000.
  4. Ambedkar, B.R. 1946. Pakistan, or the Partition of India, 3rd edition, Thacker and Co. Bombay. Chapter 10.


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