Some time back I had been to the US Club and was sitting having a glass of beer, with my girl friend.One girl sauntered up to the pool in a Bikini and my girl friend whispered that she was a Moslem. Suddenly this bit of information galvanized me and I began to seethe bikini clad girl in a different light. The girl which I had ignored earlier as very ordinary suddenly became an exotic piece to be seen.
Well that is the fact.Moslem girls seldom wear bikinis and those that do would do that out outside the pale of the Islamic nations. Why should this dichotomy be there? After all Miss USA in 2009 was a Moslem girl .Ms Fakih carried herself with aplomb.
Islam in the nations, where Islamic power is supreme goes by a set of laws that to people of other nations appear archaic. There is the Shariat and there is also a deep gender bias.After all in Pakistan the gender ration is 105: 100 for women and men. Thus in any society that has such a gender ratio the obvious fact is that the girl child is discriminated against. No sports and obviously no swimming and by corollary no bikins or swim wear.
But we must remember that Islam is not confined to the Islamic nations and there are large minorities in India, Lanka and the USA. In fact India has the second largest Moslem population in the world.
Thus we cannot quantify and say that what happens in the Moslem nations is the rule as in freer societies the women whether Islamic or otherwise do come out of their shell. India is an example, where we have Moslem girls like Dia Mirza winning a Miss World title and becoming stars in their own right.. But one can make a statement that the women in countries like Iran and Pakistan are controlled. Comparatively despite all the rhetoric, Pakistan is not that bad and one Pakistani girl despite all the discouragement did claim to be Miss Pakistan.
The Bikini is a statement of emancipation. But there is also no doubt that a lot many women in Islamic countries may be supporting the ban on bikini and display of the body. To an extent this is true, but to use coercion is not in the best interest of society. This happened in 2006 when one of the Girls from Indonesia a Moslem nation entered a miss universe contest in a bikini; she received death threats from hard liners.
The world and Islam is at the cross roads. The winds of change will sweep the world, but one cannot be sure in which direction it will go forwards or backwards.It is frankly all very fluid. Women will have to fight their battles themselves.