BIRACHI, India — A group of women in their 40s, dressed in black headscarves and black head coverings, gathered on the steps of a local government building to discuss the new hijab law in the city of Bhagalpur.
Their voices rose and fell.
They called for a moratorium on wearing the hijab, saying it would “silence” women.
They were also calling for the elimination of gender-based discrimination and called for the ban of the head cover-and-scarf, which they said is an expression of “blackness” and “black identity.”
The group also called for all women to have the right to choose what their body will be, and called on women to be more vocal about their issues and be more involved in public life.
“The hijab is a form of resistance,” said Shabana, a woman in her 40s.
“We wear it to protect ourselves.
We don’t wear it because we want to protect our heads.
We wear it for our bodies.”
The law, which took effect on May 1, requires women in the Muslim-majority city of 2.7 million to wear the hijab at all times, and bans the wearing of the hijab in public spaces.
Women who refuse to comply will face a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to three months.
The ban has been criticized by human rights groups and activists who say it discriminates against women.
“It’s not the hijab that’s the problem.
The problem is that there’s a veil, which is a barrier to women’s freedom,” said Bollywood actress, singer and activist Kunal Bahl, who was one of the women who protested the new law.
Bahl, whose real name is Shabanna, said the hijab is an issue for many women because they’re constantly being told they have to wear it, especially in a country where women are rarely allowed to express themselves openly.
“I think it’s a sign of ignorance.
The hijab is just a veil for the head,” Bahl said.
“Women are being told that they can’t be themselves without it.
We have to put a veil on.”
Bahl said she believes the new laws in Bhagadpur and other cities across India are an example of how society treats women.
She said that women in India are often expected to dress as a certain gender, even though they are not allowed to.
“There are laws that prohibit women from wearing skirts, and in the past women were required to cover their hair, but they weren’t allowed to wear a headscarf,” Bahla said.
Bahlan, a mother of two, said that the women in Bhakalpur were not just protesting, but also seeking equality.
“They want us to dress like them.
We want to wear their headscarfs, too,” Bahlan said.
Bahlan added that they wanted to show that the headscarftis are not just for men, but women.
Bhangra was born in a small village in Bihar, and grew up in the southern Indian state of Bihar.
She said that her family was not allowed by the government to enter the village for the last three years.
She went on to study in the U.K., where she is now a British-born citizen.
Bhangra’s father, who lives in a different village, is an alcoholic, and her mother is a widow.
“My mother is anorexic, and she’s not allowed outside of the house,” Bhangra said.
She added that she feels unsafe in her own village because her mother doesn’t have a job.
“She keeps herself in a wheelchair and has to go to the local health center every day.
She has to take two taxis to get to her home every day,” she said.
When the women arrived at the meeting, one of them said, “I think you should just take the headcover off.”
Bhagalpuri is one of three Muslim-dominated areas of Uttar Pradesh, which has been rocked by a string of terror attacks in recent years.
Earlier this month, a Hindu man allegedly stabbed a Muslim woman to death.
Police say that a case has been registered against the suspect and the death is being treated as a homicide.