"Modesty is invisibility, said Aunt Lydia"

Afghan women in chadras
Creative Commons AttributionAfghan women in chadras - Credit: Steve Evans
The Handmaids are reqiuired to wear a red, habit-like smock, and a white headdress which shields them from men's eyes. This anticipates, to an extent, the burqa (or chadri, which has no eye-slit but instead a fine mesh-weave or grille) later worn by Afghan women under the Taliban and still required of all Iranian women in public.

‘Modesty’ was one of the principles that the Taliban – a regime not unlike the Gileadean one – insisted the women of Afghanistan cultivate. To this end, they were required to wear the chadri, which covers the body from head to toe, rendering them ‘invisible’ to men (including relatives) and thus, it was thought, safe from being sexually desired.