From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Purdah or pardah (from Persian : پرده, meaning "curtain") is a religious and social institution of female seclusion observed by some Muslim women in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. More simply, it is the practice of preventing men from seeing women. This takes two forms: physical segregation of the sexes and the requirement that women cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form.
Physical segregation within a building is achieved with judicious use of walls, curtains, and screens. A woman's withdrawal into purdah usually restricts her personal, social and economic activities outside her home. The usual purdah garment worn is a burqa, which may or may not include a yashmak, a veil to conceal the face. The eyes may or may not be exposed.
Purdah was rigorously observed under the Taliban in Afghanistan, where women had to observe complete purdah at all times when they were in public. Only close male family members and other women were allowed to see them out of purdah. In other societies, purdah is often only practised during certain times of religious significance.
Among some married Hindu women in rural north India, a form of purdah, the ghoonghat, is observed in the presence of older male in-laws or in familiar public spaces where there is a likelihood of meeting them. It is not observed more generally in unfamiliar public spaces. It is not observed among Hindu women elsewhere in India.
- Hijab by country
- Sex segregation and Islam
- Women in Bangladesh
- Women in India
- Women in Islam
- Women in Pakistan