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When Showing Your Eyes is Illegal 

December 26, 2016
Plain English Version


The dress code for women in Mosul was absolute. They must cover every part of their body in black. That includes their eyes.

The jihadists took over Mosul in 2014.  This story comes from women who fled the city while Iraqi forces were freeing it. Most women there already covered their hair with a scarf and covered their arms with long sleeves. It was a conservative city. But it was not conservative enough for the Islamic forces when they took charge.

They issued rules called the “Bill of the City” telling women how they must dress,

  • The body covered with an abaya or jilbab
  • The hands covered with gloves
  • The feet covered with socks
  • The face covered with a niqab or khimar
  • The eyes covered with a film of black cloth

One woman’s story: “I put on everything — the niqab, the abayathe gloves, the socks. All I forgot to do is cover my eyes. Then I went outside. The morality police saw me. One said,  ‘Where is your husband? Does he accept that just anyone can see your face?’ I said I was not showing my face. Only my eyes!”

The new rules were clear. “To the virtuous women, in modesty and the wide, loose jilbab, stay in your homes and leave them only in cases of necessity.”

The terrorists put up billboards. They showed a picture of a woman looking like a black silhouette. She was completely covered in concealing clothes. They said that a woman’s gown should be “thick and not reveal what is beneath.”And it should “not draw attention.”

This is what happens when the police catch a woman straying from the dress code. They issue a notice in exchange for her husband’s ID card. The husband has to appear at a hearing before a judge. The level of punishment depends on the offense. He may have to pay a fine. Or they sentence he or his wife to a whipping.

It is clear that the aim of the rules is to keep women inside their homes. One woman said, “This was the entire purpose. The essence of their Islamic jurisprudence is to make women melt away. To make them invisible.”

Source: The New York Times December 12, 2016

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