Charted: How People in Seven Muslim Countries Believe Women Should Dress

The World
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Jan. 8 2014 5:14 PM

Charted: How People in Seven Muslim Countries Believe Women Should Dress

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As the chart above, created by the Pew Research Center, goes, there’s quite a bit of variation over what constitutes proper dress for women in the Islamic world. The data for the chart come from the Middle Eastern Values Survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. (Several hundred people comprising what the researchers describe as a nationally representative sample in terms of education, religion, and social class were polled in each country. The gender breakdown was close to 50–50 in each of them.)

As you’ll see, the majority overall said that a woman should completely cover her hair but not her face. The majority in conservative Saudi Arabia favored the face-covering niqab, while relatively liberal Lebanon and Turkey had the highest support for no covering at all. (Hijabs are still prohibited for women in a number of jobs in Turkey.)

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Overall, Tunisia had the highest number of respondents (56 percent) saying it is “up to a woman to dress whichever way she wants." Only 14 percent of Egyptians agreed. Interestingly, given that it has the most stringent legal dress codes of any country sampled, 47 percent of Saudis said women should be able to dress how they wish.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.