Yemen: a very feminine revolution

"Day of Honor and Dignity" protests by burqa-clad women:  a sight to inspire hope.

Protests across most provinces of Yemen by women dressed in dour black burqas to call for President Saleh's downfall give hope to those who thought such outfits only ever signify the subjugation of women.

These protests have been called, according to CNN, in response to a denegrading speech by Ali Abdullah Saleh denouncing earlier demonstrations when "women who were protesting against his regime were violating Yemeni cultural norms that prohibit women mixing with men who are not direct relatives. He called it forbidden behavior in Islam and advised women to stay home"  says CNN.

Conservative women who usually would have remained indoors are out on the streets of the cities in support of the protestors.  They are angry and affronted, evidently.

And all this, just as the French ban the burqa in public as it's been regarded in France as tantamount to a symbol of male domination over women.  Women have since been arrested in France for daring to venture outside wearing the garb.  And The Telegraph in the UK deems the ban a "victory for tolerance".

Perhaps Yemeni women are proving several points by demonstrating so vehemently whilst wearing their oft-face and body-covering attire.  

As a friend said to me, there are only a few reasons for wearing these burqas in the West:  piety, rebellion against liberal convention, or subjugation.  There's another in such places as The Yemen:  cultural normality in a state where such outfits are convention.  But these protesting Yemeni women are saying that their dress-code is no indicator of their political affiliations and aspirations or personal demeanour.  They can still denounce Saleh and call for his removal from office.  And they clearly are intent on not being stuck in front of the kitchen sink.

Good on them.

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