Each side has a long history of looking at the other's sexual mores with a mixture of astonishment and disgust. The term termagant sums up the surprising way Westerners saw Muslim women before the seventeenth century. Here are some examples of customs and social attitudes from the Muslim side of the divide in reverse chronological order that have me, for one, shaking my head. I have made sure only to include instances in this weblog entry that represent a general outlook, and not just a single person's idiosyncrasy, anecdotes that reflect the Shari'a or societal consensus, not deviants and outcasts.
Somali mother of eight stoned to death for taking a second husband: Somalia's Al-Shabaab had Habiba Ali Isak, 30 and the mother of eight children, publicly stoned to death in the southern town of Sakow, Jubba, for having cheated on her husband by taking a second husband.
She admitted she illegally married a second husband. According to the Islamic Sharia she was publicly stoned to death this afternoon. Child marriages are increasing drastically in Yemen, due to the civil war and the poverty and the displacement it caused.
A father ran out of cash while buying qat — leaves habitually chewed as a stimulant in Yemen — so he gave his daughter to the dealer in marriage. Another man married off his daughter three times in two years for repeated dowries, all before she turned In another case, a child bride who had been handed over by her father in exchange for a taxi bled to death after being forced to have sex days after her wedding.
May 28, Marrying off young daughters for the dowry in Yemen: As civil war grinds on in Yemen and families become destitute, one option to decrease expenses and raise capital is to marry off pre-pubescent girls.
Fayrouz's mother needed a blood transfusion. The family sold their belongings after fleeing airstrikes in the northern city of Saada last year. But the money raised was not enough to pay their debts to the hospital and relatives. Their shy daughter, a shade under 4 feet tall, became their only source of income. However, after the wedding, when they reached her husband's home, he started to flirt with her and ordered her to get into his bed. Scared, she ran into a bedroom and locked herself inside.
I called my father and he called my grandfather. But she's still married. There's no way her parents can afford to return the dowry money. Child marriages are common: On a recent day, eight community elders sat in a [refugee] camp, some chewing khat, the narcotic leaf favored by most Yemeni men. Seven have married off their girls this year.
Even Salim, the elder who worked at the charity, is preparing to marry off his two daughters, ages 13 and Mohammad Ali al-Ansi married off his two girls, ages 13 and 14, in April.
It's difficult for me to feed my 10 children. But after paying for their weddings and meeting other debts, the money has nearly run out. More on Ansi's year-old daughter Fatma, married to year-old Zaid: Fatma spent her day cooking and washing clothes for her in-laws.
When asked the name of her husband's family, Fatma didn't know it. She remembers her father telling her and her sister, Amal, that the family needed money. She remembers that Amal was in tears because her new husband was taking her to another region. The two sisters have not seen each other since their weddings. I want to learn how to write. I have sacrificed for my family," she continued, her voice dropping to a whisper. Minutes later, her husband arrived at the tent, and Fatma went silent.
He said Fatma was "at a good age to marry. July 7, Female sexual freedom among the Tuareg: Their men became known as the 'blue men of the Sahara' because the dye from their distinctive indigo scarves rub off onto their faces giving them a mysterious air.
The Tuareg evoke images of a long forgotten and romantic age. But behind the ancient way of life is a culture so progressive it would even make some people in liberal western cultures blush. Women are allowed to have multiple sexual partners outside of marriage, keep all their property on divorce and are so revered by their sons-in-law that the young men wouldn't dare eat in the same room.
What is even more surprising is that even though the tribe has embraced Islam they have firmly held onto some of the customs that would not be acceptable to the wider Muslim world.
Before a woman marries, she is free to take as many lovers as she wants. For years, the men of the Tuareg have been able to ride to a young woman's tent, and sneak into the side entrance - while his well-trained camel stands quietly and waits. There, they will spend the night together - while the family, who all live in the tent, politely pretend not to notice.
Should the woman choose to welcome a different man into her tent the next day, so be it. Yet could all of this be under threat, Drury asks. Butler has noticed more of the women taking up the hijab. And while she has been assured the women are wearing it for a fashion statement, rather than for religious reasons, she cannot be sure. But there is hope this proud tribe, which has survived for more than 1, years, will hold fast to the traditions which make them so very different from all others.
After all, they believe their culture is preferable to anything they have yet to come across. They certainly consider themselves superior to us. I first encountered the Tuareg in Niger in and their mystery inspired me a year later to take up Arabic. I had planned with a friend after graduating college to spend a year in a Land Rover documenting aspects of Tuareg life.
This did not happen; but my fascination with this people remains in place nearly a half-century later. June 24, The travails of Pakistani transvestites: Simon Tomlinson recounts the difficulty of cross-dressing in Pakistan: Across conservative Pakistan, where extremists launch near-daily attacks and many follow a strict interpretation of their Muslim faith, male cross-dressers face a challenge balancing their two identities. Male and female roles are clearly defined in Pakistan and transgender people often face harassment and abuse.
Some have left their villages for the anonymity of a big city, fearing the reactions of their families while still concealing their identity from neighbours and co-workers. Surprisingly though, "A Supreme Court ruling allowed transgender people to get national identity cards recognising them as neither male nor female and allowing them to vote. Transgendered politicians have also run for office.
Restaurants in Saudi Arabia have posted "[Single] women not allowed" signs because they are seen as trouble. One owner explained he did so to avoid problems following cases of harassment. A blogger, Capable Politician, told of a typical single female: She would come in alone and focuses on her mobile from which emanates loud music. She then takes out a cigarette and upsets other guests who may call in the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
This could cause problem for the restaurant. So the best thing is to keep women away from restaurants unless they have a male custodian. That way the restaurant is not shut down because of the misbehaviour of an adolescent or mentally unstable woman. A second blogger, Talal, justified the decision similarly: My brother has a restaurant and he says that even though there is a section for families, there are often instances of embarrassment.
Several women would come in and would speak loudly without any respect for public behaviour. He says that it is difficult for him to get them to lower their voices.
A third, "Not A Simple Decision," added: Restaurant managers are usually foreigners who do not know the right way to conduct themselves and their business when there are women without male custodians around.
They would rather ban them than allow them in and face serious issues. November 23, Female Indonesian police recruits must take a virginity test: Human Rights Watch published a report today, " Indonesia: The "virginity tests" are conducted under Chief Police Regulation No.
Article 36 of the regulation requires female police academy applicants to undergo an "obstetrics and gynecology" examination. While the regulation does not specify that a "virginity test" is to be administered as part of the exam, two senior policewomen told Human Rights Watch that it has long been the practice.
The test is given early in the recruitment process as part of the applicants' physical exam. Police Medical and Health Center Pusat Kedokteran dan Kesehatan personnel conduct the tests primarily in police-operated hospitals. Human Rights Watch found that the examination has included the discredited and degrading "two-finger test" to determine whether female applicants' hymens are intact.
Indonesia's National Police jobs website states, as of November 5, , that, "In addition to the medical and physical tests, women who want to be policewomen must also undergo virginity tests.
So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity. The test is done without consideration of the applicants' dignity or feelings. A year-old woman who took the test in recounts: For the test, 20 applicants were told to enter an examination room in Makassar's Bhayangkara police hospital. We were ordered to strip to our underwear in three minutes.
The medical staff then checked our eyes, nose, teeth, spine alignment, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. Then we were told to enter a separate room without a door. The medical staff performed the "two-finger" test on two candidates [at a time] in the room. Even just entering the room was very scary because we had to undress while there were 20 people in the room.