When you feel something is precious and that other people want to steal it from you, you will tend to hide it and protect it, so no one knows what you have. This way, no one will get the idea or desire to steal it from you.
This is the reason behind the forced covering of muslim women. The koran only instructs people to be modest, and the way women are forced to cover, even if it is just to the wrists, ankles and hair, has nothing to do with modesty.
We will look for the beginning and root of this tradition which is now identified with islam, yet there is nothing in the koran, or the teachings of Muhammad, that requires or even suggests that women should be treated so unethically. Considering that the arab world and muslim asian countries have very hot temperatures, forcing women to cover is to force them to suffer while the men are in shorts and t-shirts.
The tradition began long before Muhammad with a vagabond, warring tribe of people called the Bedouins. They used to raid each others camps and steal the women. So, to help protect their women, they developed the concept of covering the women from head to toe so you would not know if this is a young girl, pretty woman, or old lady or perhaps, a man with a sword under his cloak. This would help prevent the invading tribe from grabbing any woman they could see.
It is for exactly that reason, which we initially mentioned, that to protect ones precious wife and daughters from other people who want to steal and rape them, they must be hidden to protect them, making it harder for the thieves.
But today, we are in a different world, even in the arab world, it is not the same anymore. Bedouins do not usually raid a village and grab the pretty girls. we are more civilized now. And so it is time, as the world is in a period of tremendous societal and political change, that the muslim world wake up to the reality that this ancient pre-islam tradition which has nothing to do with islam be stopped.
It must be stopped because it is totally immoral and unethical, and illegal in many countries, to subjugate women and force them to dress in such an uncomfortable, unhealthy and un-womanly manner, which there is no valid reason to do.
The justification that it is their religion is not true since the teaching is simply to be modest, so let them be modest, but live a life like a human being instead of a chattel or possession. In fact, this in a way is contrary to muslim teachings of treating all people with resect.
There is a difference between religion and tradition.
Religion is theoretically teachings from God. Traditions are concepts made by men which people follow over generations. You should not confuse, as people often do, a tradition with religion.
Traditions are time or period relevant, and traditions should change over time when their relevance from the time of their creation, ceases to be relevant as the world and society change.
The world is opening up to equality between men and women, between genders and races, and this is a call to all muslims globally to stop this unjustified suppression of women.