The whole country was invested in the ban on the wearing of Hijab by Muslim girls and young women and what the outcome of this would be in the Karnataka High Court where the ban was challenged. Considering that the court has allowed for the ban in the interim period till the case was heard and judgment pronounced, it didn't exactly come as a surprise that the court upheld the ban and said that in schools and colleges, wherever the uniform didn't allow it, the ban would remain in place.

So much was written for and against the ban on the Hijab but in the meantime scores of girls were unable to appear for their examinations and now have also not been allowed appear for the test as it was said that the girls didn't appear for the test on their own accord.

So will hundreds or maybe thousands of girls have to forego their education is anyone's guess. But what is interesting is that when it comes to women's attire there are many invested in what she is wearing or not wearing. Whether a woman chooses to cover herself or wear minimal clothing, the authorities and those who are the keepers of the laws and norms (read men) are the ones who feel that they should have the final say.

Minority pushed further back

What I am seeing is that many more women in my city are wearing the burkha than when I was little. When a strong position is taken against the minority community then they feel their identity is threatened and this will push people to harden their own positions. Often the ones to bear the cost of this is women. Now so many more Muslim women will be forced to wear the burkha or they might want to themselves wear the burkha even if earlier they were not just to assert their identity.

In countries where the burkha is compulsory like in Saudi Arabia and Iran, women are pushing and agitating for their right to not wear the burkha. So in both the cases, the rights of women to cloth themselves as they see fit are being trampled upon. Why should someone decide what you can wear or not or what you should eat or not. But these days in India, we are told what to eat, when to eat, what to wear, what not to wear, how many children to have, and the list is endless.

The struggle for women's education has been long and hard

It has taken a long time for women to even get an education. After all just a couple of centuries ago, women were not even allowed to study. It took the sustained efforts to a few people to open up education for women. We know of the efforts someone like Savitribai Phule made to provide education to Dalit and OBC girls. Savitribai was aptly assisted by Fatima Sheikh who opened her home for Savitribai to start the school and she also obtained training to teach along with Savitribai. Together they taught the first girls in Bhide Wada in Pune which was started in 1848. Women's education has come a long way since then but every barrier that women have overcome, whether it is college education, university degrees, medical and engineering college degrees, law degrees, etc, they have all come after a lot of struggle.

Access to education for Muslim girls has also has its own series of struggles but now this ban on the burkha will likely deprive so many girls of an education which they so need. Maybe some parents will chose to enroll their daughters to other schools and colleges where the ban is not application or they might decide to discard the burkha instead of letting the ban affect the education of their daughters. But dictating how women should or should not cloth themselves is definitely making dents in women's agency to dress in the way she wants to.

The ban has been challenged in the Supreme Court so one will have to see how this issue unfolds going forward.

Uniforms and other countries

When it comes to uniforms we understand that there is a certain code, a need to ensure that each one maintained uniformity but there are exceptions. In countries like USA, UK and Canada, to name a few, Sikh men in police and army are allowed to wear the turban. These are countries where the Sikh religion followers are not in big number nor did the religion originate there so that they would know the traditions and religious practices of Sikhism, but these countries seem to have understood the importance of these practices.

Recently, in the USA, a man of Indian origin Darshan Shah from a Gujarati was allowed to wear a Tilak Chandlo even in uniform. He is an airman. This, in a country where applying the tilak is not a known practice. Airman Darshan Shah reportedly said, "We live in a country where we are allowed to practice and have faith in what we want. That's what makes this such a great country." He was obviously referring to the United States of America.

This decision to allow Darsha Shah to put a tilak has been appreciated in India seeing that the belief of a person of a minority religion was accommodated. But when it comes to accommodating the beliefs and practices of our minorities in India, we would like to impose a ban of what some Muslim women feel is their way of practicing their faith.

Surely, imposing rules on a minority community women where education is still lower than the other communities is not the way we in India can say we are empowering Muslim women. It has been a long road to ensure that girl and women from all communities have access to good education so putting road blocks will definitely impede their progress and will give hardliners the foothold they need to impose regressive practices or even deny girls an education.

In Afghanistan on Wednesday, girls had to go back to their homes as the Taliban decided to continue with the ban on education of girls which they had earlier announced they would lift. So many girls had to return home dejected and crying. Many Indians tweeted how appalling it was to deny girls education. But aren't we also doing the same?