Editor: Riya Singh Rathore
Muslim women donning hijab, burqa, or the veil has been a contentious issue and a source of discrimination against them worldwide. In India, this issue resurfaced in December after the Udupi Women’s PU College, a pre-university college in Karnataka, denied entry to several girls since they were wearing hijabs and ‘disrupting’ the college uniform. In response to a series of pleas and petitions against the ban, the Karnataka High Court upheld the college’s hijab ban. In the context of these recent events, this paper highlights the need to understand the significance of Muslim women’s agency and situates it within the larger debates surrounding their marginalisation. Further, this work explores how the current ban on hijab does more harm than good to Muslim women’s right to education.
On 31 December 2021, the Udupi Women’s PU College in Karnataka prohibited six hijab-wearing girls from entering its premises (Wire Staff, 2022a) because they wore a hijab, despite the Indian Constitution safeguarding its citizens’ rights to equality and religious freedom. This antagonism of the hijab spread to other educational institutions that also discriminated against hijab-wearing girls on religious grounds in different states and colleges. For instance, the Government Junior PU college in Kundapur, Karnataka made a few hijab-wearing girls sit in a separate classroom (Wire Staff, 2022b), effectively segregating the hijab-wearing students from their non-hijab wearing counterparts.