I just want to be free.

I’m 18 years old.

I met with the headscarf when I was in 5th grade, and at that time, I was 11 years old. According to Islam, individuals who are not in puberty are not responsible for the religious requirements. As an 11-year-old child, I was subjected to my mother’s coercion, threats, and even beatings. My father let me be, but he pushed me away so he wouldn’t break up with my mother.

If you didn’t experience stuff like that, you can’t imagine cryings and suicidal thoughts. Since I didn’t have a sister, I had to live through it all. My mother even warned my two brothers. If I took off my headscarf anywhere, they would tell my mother. You can’t imagine how bad my psychology was.

Because I was 11 years old. ELEVEN.

You know, in some families, you don’t have any choice, whatever your family says or wants, you do it. But I didn’t want to, and I’ve told my mother so many times. Does someone like my mother ever listen to me? “They will call you the unveiled daughter of the mother who is veiled,” “If you want to open your ass to everyone, I’ll throw you out of this house.” These words were exceptionally usual for me to hear. I resisted until high school, I opened my hair in places I went, but I could not get rid of the beating. When I went to high school, I had to wear a headscarf. Now I’ve finished high school, and I’m going to college. I had had to wear long clothes, even when I’m veiled. If I don’t, my mom says I’m naughty.

I still can’t wear the outfit I want, and I even can’t make the decision. My mother always puts psychological pressure on me, and I’m collapsing. I’m not allowed to shake hands with men on the street, relatives, or any environment. In the news, we see the moral defenders who find themselves the right to laugh or interfere with women’s clothes. One of those people is my mother. The only difference is that she only does this behavior to me. My mother interferes with my life because she doesn’t want any reaction from the outside. She says, “What they’ll say, the people?” Yes, I’m 18 now, and I’m still going through the same thing. I want to dress as to how I feel happy, blow my hair, dye it, and shape it as I want. I want to be free.

I am a Muslim, and I love Islam. I also know that Islam is a religion of tolerance. I don’t believe that morality and decency can be done by wearing a headscarf. I think the decisive thing is the kindness and love within a person. For it is taught that Allah looks at our hearts and knows what is in it. My thoughts and my life are very opposite. I’m relieved even to write it down here. I’m not against the headscarf; I’m not against the hijab. I argue that one has to do something of his own accord. Although I am not allowed to do so in my own life, I will continue to say this wherever I see it. 

(Image: Paula Rego)

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