A Moroccan rights organization launched an awareness campaign against the veiling of young girls, describing it as a major form of child abuse. Under the slogan “So that girls won’t live in eternal darkness,” the Center for Woman’s Equality launched a campaign  that aims to counter the phenomenon of forcing girls between the ages of three and 10 to wear the headscarf. In its statement obtained by Al Arabiya, the center called upon all human rights organizations as well as legislative bodies to join this campaign against what they termed “a flagrant violation of innocence and childhood.” “Girls at this age know nothing about religion and what is prohibited and what is not,” said the statement. The statement added that making girls wear the veil at a very young age threatens their psychological stability and therefore ruins the coming generations and an entire society. In addition to the role that needs to be played by the government and rights organizations, the statement stressed the important of religious bodies. “Islamic bodies need to interfere to make things clear and tell people that forcing young girls to wear the veil is not part of Islam.” Mariam, a 10-year-old girl, said her father, an imam at a mosque forced her to wear the headscarf. “He said that it will protect me from harassment,”  she told Al Arabiya. Asmaa, also 10, said her mother, a teacher at an Islamic school, forced her to wear the veil because it is a religious obligation. “She said I have to get used to it while I am still young, otherwise I would go to hell,” she told Al Arabiya. For sociologist Karima Wadghiri, forcing girls to wear the veil does not only violate children’s rights and kill their innocence, but also nourishes in them a wrong perception of their bodies. “They will start associating their bodies to shame which has to be hidden and this view contradicts the true essence of Islam,” she said. Wadghiri added that when they grow up these girls will confuse conservatism with fanaticism and liberalism with immorality. “Their inability to distinguish between those concepts will put them in a constant state of confusion and eventually drive them to isolate themselves from the outside world.” The girls’ conflict will be taken from the personal to the public level and will have a negative effect on the entire society, she said. “Society will later be divided not on class or financial status as is usually the case, but on religious and ideological basis.” The Center for Woman’s Equality is known for its initiatives aimed at empowering women and achieving gender equality as well as countering all forms of discrimination and violence against women. (Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
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