(By Anyiam Nnaemeka)

Truth is, a lady who ‘shows some flesh’ torments a man’s senses far more than a totally nude one, for men are turned on hard by sight. Their imaginations run wild; they get hooked; soon they become willing victims all their lives. Women know this, I am sure.

 MANY a Southerner might ask what the Hijab is. To this ‘mystery’, I have shed some light. The Hijab is a veil that covers the head and chest and is particularly worn by a Moslem woman beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of her immediate family. According to the encyclopedia of Islam and Muslim World, modesty in the Qu’ran concerns both men and women’s gaze, gait, garments and genitalia; and the Qu’ran admonishes Muslim women to dress modestly and cover their breasts and genitals.

  In my youth, when overt religious chauvinism still had the best of me, I never understood the Hijab. I perhaps even loathed it. I lent myself to the otherwise ‘Western’ school of thought that it was merely some fabric worn by some uncivilised, uneducated ilk of women enslaved by their husbands under the guise of religion. However, spending time in Zamfara State opened my eyes and I nearly wish all our southern ladies wore Hijabs.

   Our Southern schools and streets are filled with cute girls with very ‘generous’ dress codes. Outside your door, girls on bum shorts litter the corridor. Get downstairs you find ladies doing laundry on lust inspiring apparels. We are used to leggings with no ‘long top’ to cover the bum; so tight you see the genitals and panties well carved out by the clothing. We’re used to all forms of skimpy clothing – flaunting bra straps; see-through tops, free flash of cleavages, etc. This has become normal; at school, in the church, at work, everywhere! And if you live here long enough, you get used to it. You stop complaining and even start ‘enjoying’ the sight.

  For National Youth Service (NYSC), I was deployed to Zamfara. Though the Sharia seemed to have condensed upon Yerima’s exit, the vestiges remained. Boys and girls couldn’t even live in the same camp.

   Some day we drive past the Federal College of Education Technical (the first all-girls College of Education I had seen), and I expect to see instant activity. Perhaps a couple of bars by the side with loud music and happy young ladies sipping booze with their men; a couple of lewd damsels waiting on car flaunting men; or a bunch of girls on skimpy clothes, seeing their men off and exchanging prolonged hugs. I wanted to see ‘chicks’ bending down and selecting cheap, used clothes; fixing fake hair and nails, throwing colour on their faces, window shopping or just standing around and looking good. Perhaps I was only expecting to see life as I knew it. To my chagrin…NONE OF THE ABOVE! Just a bunch of young ladies wearing maxi hijabs that mostly ran from head to toe, obviously detached from male folk. Fresh feces without flies, I thought.

   I took a couple of weeks to tour the town and the stark truth began to settle even more.  No bars, no ‘ethanoic’ happiness, no Davido! Every female, young or old, great or small, seemed to be wrapped in bed sheet-size hijabs. See, I had encountered ‘hijab-wearing’ ladies before now. I was quite used to the ‘exposed’ Moslem ladies from rich families mostly in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Kogi and Yoruba land with their short stylish hijabs that could even pass for sexy; allowing the shape of the bum and busts be seen and felt, provoking all the undesirable effects our Southern ladies exude. But here was I, stuck on ladies engulfed in fabric! Instantly, I missed home.

   After two months in Zamfara, my libido had dropped a great notch. I could pass for a monk in thought and deed. These ladies were graciously and totally wrapped. No curves to behold, no stray cleavage and bra strap, no busts, no bum; nothing to mess with your head or thoughts and get your mind trying to figure out whatever is under that see-through top. Living there had some sort of purging effect on my sight and consequently my mind. The sacred parts of a female’s body gradually started to become sacred again and seemed to earn a right to be covered, and for once, I began to admire and respect both the Hijab, and the ladies who make a habit of wearing it. And oh yes: I did find that brazen immorality was very low in this part. The vibe was more like – ‘if-you-want-her,-marry-her’ rather than the ‘if-you-want-her-then-get-in-her-pants’ idiosyncrasy that’s predominant down South.

  It seems our ladies just want to go naked. We’ve watched the skirts grow shorter and ‘huggier’. We (everybody) let them wear two-legged apparels for sports and better covering; they turn it to ‘bum shorts’…perhaps for want of fabric. They change from pants to tight as undies, but knowing they had tights on…they started to sit anyhow. The tight is now leggings which they used to wear with a long top to cover the bum. Today, in our faces, the long tops disappeared, leaving us with plain skin tight – a brazen case of underwear going to school, work or church. Nowadays they don’t even wear pants with it, and it’s getting even more transparent! Today they wear see-through tops with a flawless bra underneath. Their tops must reveal bra straps somehow, and the cleavage must come pouring forth!

   Truth is, a lady who ‘shows some flesh’ torments a man’s senses far more than a totally nude one, for men are turned on hard by sight. Their imaginations run wild; they get hooked; soon they become willing victims all their lives. Women know this, I am sure.

   I sometimes wonder how many young men out there are addicted, perverted, and sexually bedeviled by a few stray sights they happened upon on the street all because a sister wants to be called ‘sexy’. We lament that faithful husbands have flown from amongst women, we decry ill-gotten wealth. We lament that standards have fallen, that men ask for sex to give women jobs, roles, marks, admissions, favours, contracts, money. And the United Nations cries – emancipate the woman!

   However, by your dressing you suggest that ‘sex’ is a currency you are willing to pay in and start up this vicious circle of promiscuity that’s killing the society. Jay-Z sings fully clothed from skull to foot; the ‘add-on’ lady simply wears thongs and wiggles her butt? I feel certain that if a bill is passed banning certain clothes in public, women will vehemently protest their right to be naked, tell us we are living in the stone ages all over again; and fill us with all that ‘woman emancipation’ mantra.

    Consequently, our three-year-old boys have learnt to poke at their sisters and classmates, because you showed them how. Our sons approach puberty, the site of nudity on the streets pushes them ‘pornward’, and by 15, they have pierced themselves with many sexual sorrows. Such a boy will grow to be a philanderer, a pedophile, an abuser of women and an unworthy father. See how you make perverts out of us. See why you must stop!

   We all are culpable. From the man who calls her ‘hot and sexy’, speaking more from lust than love, to the lady who courts attention at all costs, selling womanhood short. From the father who’s not always there, to the mother who feels she’s just being like her generation…and refuses to scream, correct and insist. From the media or marketing professional who feels – sex sells, to the customer service and public relations peeps who think this lewdness is the best way to reel in customers. From the designer of these kinds of clothes, to the ‘stars’ who teach our kids that this is how to be. We all are!

Hence, if women cannot all wear Hijabs like the Moslem women do, at least get a moral one, dress modestly!

• Nnaemeka, a youth corps member in Zamfara State.

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