Pakistani province withdraws compulsory hijab order for schoolgirls


Following widespread public criticism, the Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa government decided on Monday night to withdraw its earlier province-wide order instructing female students of secondary and higher secondary government educational institutions to wear the veil.

The initial directive had been defended by government representatives as required if school-going girls were to protect themselves against “unethical incidents” — harassment.

Earlier on Monday morning, the district education officer (DEO) for females, Peshawar, had issued a circular addressed to the heads of all government girls schools, directing them to “properly follow school timings and instruct all students to wear the gown/chador to veil/conceal/cover up themselves in order to protect them from any unethical incident. The matter may be treated as most urgent important and important,” read the circular.

The move came just days after the district education department in Haripur issued a similar circular.

Sources told Dawn that KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan directed the secretary of elementary and secondary education, Arshid Khan, to withdraw the controversial order as it had been issued unnecessarily.

The move had invited widespread outrage on social media (though some users did support it); in a tweet, anchorperson Amber Rahim Shamsi commented that this amounted to putting the onus of harassment on the victims. “As if women who wear the hijab and abaya don’t get harassed. Well done KP. Well done,” she wrote.

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