Very young Saudi girls now forced to cover heads AND faces

KHAMIS MUSHAYT:  In the southern province of Asir, school regulations now stipulate that pre-pubescent girls should dress in such a way that no part of their body, including head and face, is visible.

When an eight- or ten-year-old girl is told that she should cover her entire body from head to toe — as an adult woman is supposed to do — then immediately the child’s mother asks why. The parents have not been able to convince school authorities that little girls are not required to dress as adult women. Though Islam has strict dress regulations for women, they are only applied after girls reach puberty.

A child who dares to violate the new dress code faces severe punishment, including a public scolding and deductions from her marks.

The school authorities in Asir, however, justified their stand by saying that the practice would help develop the culture of Islamic dress at a very early age in girls. The school official added that this would prevent the more attractive girls from being harassed by men. Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, adviser at the Ministry of Justice, said a girl should cover her face and stop displaying her face at 10 because that is the age when her body begins to become attractive.

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