I Was Given A Silent Treatment For Not Wearing Hijab

I Was Given A Silent Treatment For Not Wearing Hijab

I wonder what my crime was? to be born a girl. Strictly speaking, it was my parents’ crime. You may know what silent treatment is, but I would rather give a brief account of it. The refusal to speak to a person or even recognize their presence is how abusers punish their victims. Abusers share their dissatisfaction, irritation, and frustration aloud through silence. The feeling of inadequacy and worthlessness is the outcome of such behaviour on the detached person by silence.

I experienced silent treatment in the academic environment. When I was a master’s student, my supervisor always used to say that women were inferior to men. Male students were highly encouraged to do more research, collect more data, publish more papers, and apply for the best academic positions. But female students were ignored, especially if they did not care much about their hijab or wore makeup. Female students who wear Chador (the complete form of Hijab in Islam) or those who married favourite male students of the supervisor had a better position. As a form of silent treatment, my supervisor never told me what position was suitable for me or where it was best to go, something he has been obsessed with about male students. He has pampered his male students and their wives. He considers men as breadwinners, entitled to have better jobs, and their wives as the second sex who can live in their husbands’ shadows (those women can be recruited to the university where their husbands are assistant professors).

Read: Iranian Professor Sexually Harrassed Female Students

Having graduated with a master’s, I entered the Ph.D. program. Again, I was treated silently! My supervisor did not pay for my research. I traveled to Germany to find a research position. This time my supervisor told me he would not allow me to apply for that position because I am worthless as a human. So I decided to find another position abroad. I received a scholarship from a Canadian university. I took a semester leave from my Iranian university. Upon entering my Canadian research group, I was told by a female labmate that I made the wrong decision to join this group, and in this group, people would not be able to graduate! I found her words a nasty shock. I felt insecure and started to apply for other positions, but I failed to find a new place. Under fear and hesitation, I came up with the idea of coming back to Iran and finishing my Ph.D.

When I returned to Iran, I talked to one of the university authorities to ensure that they would allow me to defend myself. I did not beg for anything because I did not require it. I told them if they think it is a severe offense to be in a graduate program in Canada, they can fire me now but not several months later! I still have a visa, and my position, and I can come back to Canada. The worst decision I made was trusting a supervisor who treated me silently before! He asked me several times why you spent two months in Canada and researched your Iranian Ph.D. studies in Canada without my notice? I explained to him that I did not need to inform my supervisor about it. Based on my university rules, I could take two-semester leaves without any reason, the academic leave, which counted toward my academic years.

Moreover, I was in another graduate program not related to my research in Iran. But my supervisor has decided to punish me forever silently for the crime I did not commit! Several days after my defense, I went to his room and asked for a recommendation letter. He told me you have never been in my lab. It has been two years since I graduated, but my supervisor does not submit my papers, and as extra punishment, he forced me to work and pay on projects worthless! I am also treated silently for not wearing Hijab in Canada and posting photos of mine without a headscarf on the Internet.

My question is, how can I break this silence and get my right? Who can be my voice?

I Was Given A Silent Treatment For Not Wearing Hijab

A true story of an Iranian girl


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