Wearing a headscarf can and has been construed in many ways. Here in İstanbul, as in Birmingham, women can receive a lot of unwanted attention from lascivious observers for venturing out without one, especially in some areas of the city, and especially at night. In terms of keeping conservative parents happy, covering the hair seems a small concession to make for many teenage girls. For casual muslims, it`s nice to be ready to pop into mosque whenever the mood takes them.
So for scarved women who date, or have close male friends, or don`t fast during ramadan, or wear sexy underwear for their husbands, it`s a blow to be labelled hypocrites as lightly as they often are. The visibility of the scarf makes it impossible to disguise seemingly contradictory behaviour, and the woman in question must resign herself to even more unwanted attention. As with nuns and priests, people find it funny to catch scarved women out.
There is another problem with this attitude, that casual hypocrites like myself notice – as imperfect humankind can never hope to follow all the rules all of the time, isn`t it better to at least try to adhere some of the rules laid down by whichever holy book you profess to follow? And is it really unethical to put a scarf to start with just because it`s the most obvious symbol?