Of patriarchy and virginity tests

Should a woman, guilty of pre-marital sex be flogged to death but a man, guilty of the same, be spared?

Narjis Fatema July 04, 2012
Marriage is one issue that just never loses its appeal as a topic for family discussions, social forums, religious seminars and even news stories. This is one decision in life which is heavily loaded with expectations - mostly on the woman’s side.

A few days ago, I came across a news story about Iraqi women facing court ordered virginity tests and thought to myself; what else will these misogynistic societies come up with next?

Muslim countries appear to be overly obsessed with relations pertaining to the opposite sex and we regularly come across horror stories where naive youth gets killed in the name of ‘honour’. Instead of providing alternative, religiously legitimate routes for the younger generation, our society prefers to put up more and more barriers in the way.

Unfortunately, these barriers are completely ineffective against the hormones gushing in the bloodstream of the young members of society; hence time and again we find boys and girls indulging in activities that they should not be involved in. Wrong as they might be, punishment here is not the answer here - education is.

In almost every instance of youthful misconduct, one finds the blame being placed upon the female counterpart. Not only men, but even women in our society are found saying things like,
‘Behkane wali toh humesha larki hi hoti hai. Jab tak larki agey na bare larka kuch nahi kar sakta.’

(The girl is always the one to entice the boy. Unless and until the girl doesn't take the first step, no boy can do anything.)

Can you even imagine such hypocrisy?

How many of you remember the case where a boy in Kinnaird college killed himself and an innocent girl just because she refused his advances? Claims that the girl is always at fault is a ridiculous lie.

Coming back to the court order demanding virginity tests for Iraqi women, one wonders why are these tests reserved only for women. Why are unmarried men exempt from this order? Maybe this is because there is no test to ascertain a man’s virginity, but this is not sufficient justification for this blatant nepotism. What this law is trying to establish is that it is perfectly normal and acceptable for men to indulge in pre-marital sex.

The Women’s Rights Division at the Human Rights Watch, stated that,
The Iraqi government should urgently put measures in place to ensure that women and girls are not forced to undergo physical examinations that are degrading, painful and frightening.

They further stated that,
The use of these tests in court should be banned.

Islam being a code of conduct of life very clearly condemns fornication and adultery for both men and women. So not holding men to the same expectation of virginity as a woman is, in effect, a direct breach of what our religion preaches.

Islam also states that a person’s sins should not be spoken about publicly, as you are neither the forgiver nor the forgiven. I ask the Iraqi authorities, are these tests not humiliating for women?

Why is it that religion is used merely as a convenience to satisfy the male agenda?

I would beseech the Iraqi's so first properly study their religion before making laws that incorrectly interpret it.

A man should be held equally responsible for indulging in activities regarded as socially, morally and religiously corrupt. If the woman is wrong, the man is equally guilty because it takes two to tango.

Follow Narjis on Twitter @Narjis_Fatema

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Narjis Fatema
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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COMMENTS (70)

Assam | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend @Narjis in principle i do agree with you that there should be no discrimination between the genders in terms of rights and i don't doubt your sincerity for the issue. But have a look at the following link. http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/india/2012/08/120828virginitycreamsexsz.shtml What would you say on this now? Its quite clear that its a act of a certain society and should be taken in isolation. I think our society is changing(in general islamic) you writing this article and me commenting and discussing openly is a very clear example of it. Educating people is the key thing. Kindly look at the following link. Female writer has broken down all the barriers of the society just to educate. http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/emirati-sex-book-author-plans-third-book-1.1050957 PS: Agree to disagree :D
Narjis Fatema | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend @Assam.. I agree to ur point tht the particular issue in question doesn't exist in every Mulsim society... I am talking abt all Muslim societies in terms of the discrimination between girls and boys when it comes to the matter of honor of family and especially when it is related to intimate relationships... and all I meant to say was this virginity test issue in Iraq is a step ahead in tht direction... I had no intention of in any way saying tht Islam promotes such attitude or tht Muslims r all bad.. its just tht Muslim societies have these issues much more prevalent coz we still believe in moral values.. its just tht we need to strike a balance when it comes to gender treatment...
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