Open in a separate window So there are no reliable data on the level of sexual practice? We have some information on attitudes, though. When you compare the ability to mobilise social groups, we can say that the relatively more open societies are Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Jordan is quite open on some issues like honour killing, which is a real problem there.
What do the latest studies tell us? But the majority of men said they wanted to marry a virgin. So there you go. How do we figure out what is actually going on, then? Kuwait is considering a law that would allow gender testing. In the book, I talk about their punishment for cross-dressers. What is going on?
Why this fixation on transgender people, at the same time as the Arab world is in such political upheaval? They say that Moroccan women are a little light on sexual morals.
As a leading Moroccan magazine put it: To be Moroccan is not a nationality, but a conviction. That about sums it up. Moroccan women are politically more liberated, so they must be sexually liberated too.
That idea is wrong, of course. Many people who are currently fighting for political liberalisation are absolutely horrified by the idea of sexual freedom.
Tunisian women have a reputation similar to that of Moroccan women. Who are these people who are pushing the boundaries? Aliaa Elmahdy is one example. Frankly, I do not think this is how you achieve change. Another example is the Moroccan Kiss-In. On Facebook, thousands of people said they would attend and participate. Only 12 people showed up. This slacktivism is typical. Double standards seem to be the norm in the Arab world.
There is no equality of expectations, and what happens in private does not match up with what is expected in the public sphere. Basically, it is prostitution, people trafficking and sex tourism masquerading as marriage. Who are these temporary husbands and wives?
Before the revolution, he organised at least a thousand marriages a year. Some were to wealthy Saudi men, who like to have a teenage girl, or even more specifically a virgin, and then keep her for, say, 10 days to two weeks. He knew the parents who sell their daughters for this kind of arrangement. She had left school at Research shows that a majority of these holiday matches involve girls younger than Violence, unprotected sex and sexually transmitted diseases are standard ingredients of their stories.
An example of the absurd lengths to which the Arab obsession with virginity can go. So how do you reconcile the reality of the bedroom with outward appearance? This is a highly emotive issue. We should not only turn to the past for solutions, but Muslim culture since the beginning did have some healthy approaches to sex.
We know some things are halal and others are haram, but in between, there are 50 shades of grey, and more. At times, people have gravitated towards a pragmatic approach towards sex.
Why does this happen? Do we seriously need to? I, for one, think so. Take abortion, for example. In most Arab countries, it is illegal. But in Algeria, it is not. So you are an optimist. The Arab world is not a hopeless place. That change will not be a revolution. It will take decades. Many people in the West think this impossible, but they forget that their own sexual revolution was no helicopter that simply lifted off from taboo land and flew to the realm of sexual freedom.
In the West as well, the sexual revolution was a giant Hercules transport plane that was able to take off thanks to a long runway. That runway represents hundreds of years of political, economic and social changes.
If you could change only one thing, what would it be? That definitely has to change. They should raise them without privileges, teach them to treat their sisters equally and face up to their responsibilities. If that would happen, the rest would follow. But this process would also take time, and effort: