28 September 2009

Disgusting customs

This is taken from BBC News:

A leading Egyptian scholar (Abdul Mouti Bayoum of al-Azhar University) has demanded that people caught importing a female virginity-faking device into the country should face the death penalty. He said that supplying the item was akin to spreading vice in society, a crime punishable by death in Islamic Sharia law; and that it undermines the moral deterrent of fornication, which he described as a crime and one of the cardinal sins in Islam.

The device is said to release liquid imitating blood, allowing a female to feign virginity on her wedding night. The contraption is seen as a cheap and simple alternative to hymen repair surgery, which is carried out in secret by some clinics in the Middle East. It is produced in China and has already become available in other parts of the Arab world. The device is reported to be on sale in Syria for $15.

P.S. In the university where I work I see dozens of Islamic women wearing the veil covering their heads. (Men don't wear anything of the sort.) But for the first time this year I also saw female students with their faces entirely hidden, like in the picture above. I must admit I find it utterly disturbing. I cannot help but think that men of these societies treat women like objects. And women accept that....


  1. There is a very close parallel with hymen-restoring surgery in the west, purity balls and a lot of other similar practices. Of course the difference is that there are legal consequences to non-virginity under Sharia law, but I still think we (as residents of western democracies) are on the same continuum. And far too close to Bayoum for comfort...

  2. I think you are talking about some of the evils of western-style democracy (ref. to my post on your site...). But I don't think things are so bad for women in the West. Whereas many (most?) people in an Islamic theocratic state would agree with the stoning of a woman for punishment, I doubt it that you'd find many around here who would support such a practice.

  3. Sometimes, yes, horrible things happen. Here is a horrible incident of bullying against two women in England. They ended up killing themselves.

  4. Of course it's nowhere near a place like Saudi Arabia -- I was just saying that these conversations can often end up fostering a "them" mentality where we draw some firm and nonexistent distinction between Us and Them.

    Amongst Muslim countries for instance, most countries are not theocracies. The ones that are are Iran, parts of Afghanistan, Northern Nigeria, parts of Sudan, parts of Somalia, Saudi Arabia and even for those we don't have good data about how much support each bit of fundamentalist law has.

    I think the best course of action for stopping things like what your post mentioned is to create ties with the great number of voices of dissent within the country itself (Egypt in this case), women's organisations etc. along with the criticism that we all generate in due course as members of the public.

  5. I think there are various degrees of theocracy. A state could be entirely theocratic, like Iran, or implicitly so, like Greece. Whereas Greece is not governed by priests, priests do play major role in many decisions; they participate in major events; Church has an independent economy (with huge assets, often the subject of sweet deals with the government); Greeks pay--whether they like it or not--the salary of (only Christian Orthodox) priests. These do not necessarily make the state a theocracy, but they share a lot with one.

  6. It's worrying when we see these insane laws in other countries but it's up to the locals to reject such laws if they're not happy with them.
    However I do become concerned when newcomers to our country insist on bringing their backward ideas and customs with them and then expecting us to include them in our constitution.
    "When in Rome do as the Romans do".

  7. I'm not talking about "laws". I'm talking about rationality. While it could be up to locals to see that some of their customs (not laws) are ridiculous and against human nature it is definitely upon every citizen in the world to point the ridicule out.

    As for "our constitution" and "our country", I don't know which constitution and which country you are referring to.



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