First, the women in the photo are not wearing the hijab, but the niqab, which is why only their eyes are visible.
But either way, consider that Islamic dress for women, as commanded by Mohammad, must cover everything except the hands and the face at minimum. Who benefits from a society where only a woman’s family can see most of that woman’s skin?
Or, to ask it another way, who is protected by having her covered up?
Here’s the scary answer: the people hitting her. When I see women in niqab, I don’t – I can’t – think about how liberated they clearly are. I wonder whether their outfits are hiding bruises the same way the dark glasses and heavy make-up are stereotypically associated with violence in the US. And do we expect that women who are being abused and hiding it with the niqab to stand around with signs announcing that fact? As Charles Darwin said of slaves,
I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of; — nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of the negro as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil.
Such people have generally visited at the houses of the upper classes, where the domestic slaves are usually well treated, and they have not, like myself, lived amongst the lower classes. Such inquirers will ask slaves about their condition; they forget that the slave must indeed be dull, who does not calculate on the chance of his answer reaching his master’s ears.
Certainly, not all women wearing Islamic dress are being abused at home. But sure as hell makes it easier for a would-be abuser, doesn’t it? We cannot forget that the Koran gives a men explicit permission to beat rebellious women in 4:34:
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.
Here’s a shithead explaining how to beat your wife, paying special attention not to hit the face (where the bruises might show under a hijab and to a much lesser extent, under a niqab):
I have a hell of a lot more concern for protecting the women who are being beaten than I do for the women like those in the picture who imagine they speak for all women wearing the niqab. If a woman knows of this verse, she knows that being admonished that she ought to wear the hijab is the first step in this process. An abusive prick need not say, “wear it or I will beat you,” for the koran has already said it for him.
It’s your choice? You are not under any duress? Fantastic, but given that the alternative to familial abuse and social coercion is that you truly believe that a seventh century psychotic warlord had a direct line to god, and the the almighty master of the universe really doesn’t want to see the hair of half the population of a recently evolved ape on a tiny rock in a suburb of a mediocre galaxy, otherwise you risk eternal torture, I’m not sure what your goal is with me.
Respect for your intellect? Sorry. I can’t do it. Your voices are already being heard, and you’re drowning out the voices of the women who do need help. They’re the ones I care about.