Islamic dress for women in Muslim nation includes a variety of headdresses, but which do citizens of each country prefer their women to wear?
According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and distributed by the Pew Research Center, many countries are going the less conservative route. The white hijab was voted the most “appropriate" and many countries believe women have the right to choose what they wear.
The survey conducted in seven Muslim-majority countries asked more than 20,000 people: “What style of dress is appropriate for women in public?” with six options to choose from. Overall, a median of 44 percent of participants in the survey chose option number four, a less-conservative white hijab that covers a woman’s hair and ears but not her face. The results of countries that selected the white hijab as the preferred style of dress were: 57 percent in Tunisia, 52% in Egypt, 46% in Turkey and 44% in Iraq.
Other options included a full hood burqa, which covers the women’s face and body entirely, with a grill hiding the eyes; a black niqab, which covers the face and body but leaves a small opening for the eyes; a version of the hijab exposing the full face in the conservative black color; a patterned silk hijab; and no head cover at all.
Turkey and Lebanon were the most divided of the group about the appropriateness of women wearing headdresses. In Lebanon, 32 percent chose the white hijab while the majority—49 percent—preferred the country's women wear no head cover at all. Likewise in Turkey: 32 percent of respondents preferred no head coverings.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were more conservative, electing the black niqab with votes of 32 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
When it comes to the full-hooded burqa, Saudi Arabia had the highest amount of votes at 11 percent, followed by Iraq at 4 percent and the rest of the countries at 3 percent or less. In Turkey, no one voted for the full burqa covering the entire body, face, eyes and head.
The most surprising results of the survey came in the second half where particpants were asked whether women should “be able to choose their own clothing” and whether they prefer to dress conservatively. The belief was most common in Tunisia, where 56 percent agree, followed by Turkey with 52 percent, Lebanon with 49 percent and Saudi Arabia with 47 percent in favor.
In Iraq, only 27 percent agreed women have a choice in their dressing. Some 22 percent shared a similar belief in Pakistan and just 14 percent voted “yes” in Egypt.
Read the full report here.