If religion is viewed as a tool of manipulation, I worry that many out there might nod in agreement to what Lilian Tan said in her letter Video clip woman wasn't wearing 'tudung'. It saddened me to note that Tan had, knowingly or unknowingly trivialised the issue of tudung wearing and religion. Her thoughts have left behind lingering sentiments of what Islam as a religion is all about.
Tan' argument was that women who don the tudung can get away with any crime, like in the case of Australian lingerie model Michelle Leslie who, upon savouring freedom, did away with her headscarf. The model served three months imprisonment in Indonesia for a drug offence.
To give any impression that Islam is a 'vulnerable' religion will only serve to further entrench that impression in the minds of the non-Muslims. No doubt people are judgmental and one's appearance can at times be misread but let us not judge a book by its cover.
A woman who decides to don a tudung has her reasons for doing so and it is not for us to judge her in any way. Yes, a tudung donning woman shoulders a higher responsibility in how she carries herself in public because of the sanctity that comes with wearing a tudung.
To conclude that a woman who does not wear a headscarf is not worthy of respect is a fallacy. A woman's worth does not correspond to her donning the tudung. Choosing to cover her head is a choice the woman makes and has to live by. It is truly unfortunate that some women take the easy way out by using the 'vulnerabilities' of a religion to serve a hidden agenda.
Women who wear the tudung are not spared abuse, be it sexual harassment or sexual violence, i.e. rape. To categorically state that women who don the headscarf enjoy privileges of sorts is not accurate. I know of women, who in spite of wearing the tudung, are being treated shabbily. Typical of us humans, we spare no effort in judging others.
If a women dons a tudung, she too suffers from prejudice, like being subjected to taunting claims of 'being holier' and for some inexplicable reason, assumed to be stupid for having chosen to cover her head.
In the case of Leslie, perhaps whatever reasons that prompted her to wear the headscarf were not sufficient enough for her to uphold the conviction, if at all there was any, that she had prior to her release. If indeed she has manipulated religion for her own gain, than let her conscience be the judge of that.
For the rest of us, let us not let the likes of Leslie belittle the faith accorded by a religion, in this case Islam.