Muslim women who are young and educated choose to wear the veil as it is their means to integrate into modern society, according to a latest study conducted in 25 Islamic nations.
The study, done by researchers from Oxford University and European University Institute published in the journal ‘European Sociological Review’ last week, tested earlier mathematical models to see how the intensity of wearing the veil varied according to the women’s education, employment, urbanisation and contact with non-Muslims.
The study, ‘Behind the Veil: The Strategic Use of Religious Garb’, includes the wearing of headscarves, the turban or hijab, the chador, the burqa (which covers the face too), and no head covering at all.
“A veil is seen as a genuine expression of a woman’s religiosity. Paradoxically, it is the women who are engaging with the modern world who appear to rely on the veil to signal to others that they will not succumb to the temptations of modern urban life,” explained Dr Ozan Aksoy, the study’s author from the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford.
The study drew on data of thousands of women living in Belgium, Turkey and 25 Muslim countries.
Study co-author Professor Diego Gambetta, Official Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, and Professor of Social Theory at the European University Institute, noted: “Contrary to the populist cant that seems now dominant in Europe, veiling could be a sign of more rather than less integration.
Highly religious women who have more native friends and live in areas dominated by natives use the veil to keep their pious reputation while being integrated.
“Banning or shunning veiling would deprive them of a means that allow them more opportunity for integration rather than marking their differences.”