Female convicts in Russia are required to wear traditional headscarves during the hot summer months. The garments are called "chapkas" and come in several styles. They cover everything except the face.
The chapka requirement was introduced in Russia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, when temperatures soared above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The idea came from a belief that women convicted of crimes would be given lighter sentences if they covered their hair and faces while serving their terms.
Although it is not mandatory for females under 18 years old to wear headscarves, many young offenders do so out of respect for society. The head covering is also recommended for mothers who have recently given birth or are still recovering from an illness.
In fact, according to some reports, nearly all female inmates in prison facilities across Russia wear chapkas. However, not everyone agrees with this practice. Some women's rights activists claim that the head scarf requirement discriminates against women who have had surgery or are otherwise visually impaired.
Prison officials argue that without this rule, inmates would use hair products that are widely available on the market today, which would lead to increased costs of incarceration.
In Russia, women wear them to church to demonstrate their commitment to Russian Orthodoxy. During the Russian Revolution and civil war, female commissars and other women who supported Bolshevism wore a simple crimson or scarlet hijab. After World War II, when religious belief declined in Russia, many young women began wearing them for aesthetic reasons.
Today, women in Russia's Kavkaz region wear them as a sign of protest against government policies. Women in the southern republic of Chechnya have worn them to work on public buses since 1994 to show support for the local chieftain who had been assassinated. In 2009, a group of Chechen women started wearing hijabs in response to calls by Muslim leaders for all women to wear them in protest at what they say is a discriminatory policy towards Muslims in Russia.
Women in Uzbekistan also wear them to show support for their leader. In April 2002, a young woman named Gulnara Karimova-Unoyan became famous across Uzbekistan because she was one of the few people allowed to see her father, President Islam Karimov. Since then, she has become an influential political figure in her own right and has used her position to promote the cause of Muslim women who want to wear hijabs.
Uzbek women first started wearing them in 2002, after President Karimov gave his permission for them to do so.
Headscarves can be worn for a variety of reasons, including protection of the head or hair from rain, wind, filth, cold, or warmth, sanitation, fashion, recognition or social difference, religious significance, concealing baldness, modesty, or other types of social norm. The word "headscarf" comes from the French word chapeau, which in turn comes from the Latin capsa for a small basket or container.
In Islam, it is forbidden to make any object that is used as a sign of devotion to God. Thus, a headscarf is an object that is often worn by Muslim women. However, only a few Islamic scholars have opined on whether this rule applies only to objects made from leather or also includes materials such as silk and wool. Some modern-day Muslim women may choose to wear a headscarf because it conforms to traditional standards set by some Muslims. But many others choose to wear it because it is in accordance with the contemporary style trends in the Muslim world.
The wearing of the headscarf has been widely discussed among academics, philosophers, and activists. Many commentators argue that there is no rational basis for requiring women to cover their heads. They claim that if doing so makes women feel uncomfortable or unaccepted in society, then it is not worth it. Others say that if covering your head makes you feel happier and more secure than not covering it, then go ahead and do so.