New trend in burqas sweeping the nation
by Zaynab Omar
May 18, 2032
PESHAWAR – As we reported in our January edition, the re-emergence of the burqa has been one of the defining features of Pakistani fashion of late. After years of choosing to wear the all-black of more Arabian style abayahs and niqaab, the young females of Pakistani have been returning to the burqa, the traditional form of attire for purdah-living ladies in recent times. However, in 2032 a new burqa has hit the streets and it is proving to be a big hit with its wearers.
Initially these new garments do not seem to differ at all from their more traditional counterparts, but they do, in fact, contain two crucial differences. Firstly, unlike traditional burqas, these are in one piece and so cannot be lifted to enable the hands to be used. Instead they have two long zips on either side which can be undone whenever hand movement is requirement. The designer of the new burqa, Irum Umar, a Peshawari fashion student explains:
“For burqa-wearing women one of the most annoying things is forever having to lift up the layers whilst working in the home. It really is a pain and so I wanted to design a garment that would enable women to do their household chores whilst remaining modest. The zips on either side can be opened as much or as little as liked, so complete free movement of hands – or just one hand – to no free movement at all are possible. Now when I am in the home or studying in the university I can complete all my tasks without ever having to remove my burqa.”
Her father is equally enthusiastic. “we are so proud of our daughter for designing this garment,” said Mohammed Umar. “She has the freedom to work but also I can decide when to limit those freedoms for her own benefit. The zips only open from the outside so I always ensure that they remain completely closed when she is away from the home or classroom.”
The burqa’s second new feature also helps to ensure modesty. Unlike traditional burqas, these new designs are completely closed at the bottom like a sack, with two integrated socks for the feet to go in. after the woman has put her feet in these, leather straps go around the ankles to prevent removal and then her shoes can be put on. The burqa need never be removed, her footsteps are limited to a pious length and there is no chance of a stray ankle being seen and causing fitna.
We went out into the bazaar to learn some more. Aziz Zadar who runs a burqa store in the bazaar confirmed that virtually all the new burqas he was selling now were of the new design. “They are coming in all colours, single grille or peepholes and also with a blinding layer if that is what is desired,” he told me.
I tried to interview some of the burqa-wearing public but found it a difficult task since the new burqas, when worn with a gag, render their wearers incommunicado in public. However, one lady, who we must refer to as Soraya, did invite me back to her house to talk about it. When we entered, her husband unzipped her armholes and we communicated via notes. She demonstrated to me how much easier it is to complete her chores. She said:
“I love these new burqas and I have seven, one for every day of the week. I wear them constantly, even in bed, only taking them off to shower. I also gag permanently and my husband has neither seen my face nor heard my voice since marriage. It is as it should be. When I need to eat he unzips an armhole and I take my liquidised food through a straw. At night, when he requires access, we merely unzip one side and do it that way. My co-wife who will be marrying my husband next month also wears one permanently.”
Afterwards I tried on one of Soraya’s burqas and have to say that I found it liberating. I suspect that they’ll be here to stay and since anything that removes us ladies from the public sphere is undoubtedly a good thing, then that must be good news for all!
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