Dressing up as I wish shouldn’t be a sin deserving hell.

Hi. I am writing because, you know what, everything that connects me to life flew away one by one.

I am someone who has been to religious boarding schools since age of 6 and who had been made to wear headscarf- even before getting my first period. I’ve never experienced wearing shorts and leggings and was beaten up for having a boyfriend while being called a “whore” by my friends in high school. I barely convinced my mom to send me to school. Most of us share the same story. I would like to say that my online friends are encouraging and supporting me but, unfortunately, they have been long gone. I have no one who could love me left. My friends don’t talk to me anymore because I am a “whore” in their eyes, even though it is not the reality.

I am veiled. I cannot wear anything above my knees. I cannot wear make-up. I cannot question religion and more importantly, I cannot be “me”. I repeatedly told my family. None of them even tried to see the situation from my perspective. My mom cried for all of this. I told my friends about it, but they didn’t even care. I grew up in a cult community and I was sent there every summer. If I were to speak up a little bit, they would even make me wear a burqa. All my mom’s friends dress like that. They all grew up in the same community and they are all against schooling. I’ve been studying in Imam Hatip schools for my secondary and high school education. Frankly, they are not different from regular schools; the only difference is it is a gender segregated school and we have to take Arabic language classes on top of regular curriculum.

I am so lonely. I have never felt this weak. I’ve never felt my loneliness so deep. I have no one to connect. I put my hijab on every day. Why would my afterlife destination be determined by a piece of fabric? Why on earth do people need to restrain from looking into the eyes of the opposite sex?

Let me explain; although not extremist like my nuclear family, my relatives are conservative people. At home, we segregate women and men and don’t sit in the same room. It is women who serve everything in the house, but it is also women eat on a separate table. Women take care of everything in the kitchen. We even eat on the floor etc. it is all about disciplining women and confining women.

Sometimes when I commute, I see women of my age who dress up as they wish, and I admire them so much. I think dressing up like them shouldn’t be a sin deserving hell. Basically, it shouldn’t make me a sinner who deserves hell for wanting to make love, letting wind linger in my hair, laughing out loud and most importantly loving myself. It is like living in hell in this world. The piece of fabric covering my hair also hinders my sight and my speech. It is just difficult.

I am only in 9th grade. None of us should have gone through this. We should have lived without being forced to live in a certain way. I shouldn’t need someone to put out this inner conflict I have been experiencing. Maybe, I could have stood up for myself had my mom not told me that “women should be silent”, “women should obey” when I was just 8 years old. During my first days of wearing headscarf people on the streets would turn around and look at me. I would do the same thing because I was so young to bear this burden. Only thing I knew back then was that if I don’t cover my hair I would burn in hell. But I was not happy at all. the only thing that matters is our happiness and bravery.

All the powerful women out there, I love you all.  I know we will all win this battle!

(Image: Catherine Hyde)

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