A survey of Muslim women throughout the Netherlands shows that most wearers of Islamic headscarves do so of their own free will.
Six out of ten Dutch Muslim women aged 15 to 35 wear the headscarf. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of them started wearing the scarf around the age of 19 and not when they were young girls. Only 16 percent of those surveyed started wearing the scarf when aged just 13 or 14.
The research marks the publication of a book on headscarves in the Netherlands and is designed to illustrate that many contemporary Dutch prejudices against the Islamic headscarf are unfounded.
One of the strongest preconceptions is the idea that the headscarf is the result of oppression. The facts and evidence of Muslim women themselves appear to contradict this assumption.
The survey indicates that, in more than half (53 percent) of the families where the mother wears the headscarf, not all the daughters (and sometimes only one) follow her lead and also wear the scarf.
The debate about Islamic headscarves and full-face veils has been raging for some time in the Netherlands. As Dutch law stands, only judges and civil servants are not allowed to wear headscarves at work. There are, however, continuing calls for the full-face veil to be banned in all public places.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide