Virtue, at what cost?

A marriage application form in Dubai may contain a humiliating tenet for women - declaration of virginity.

Faisal Kapadia July 15, 2010
Are you are sitting there wondering what the above image is about? Its a section for women in the court marriage application form in Dubai. This has not been completely verified as I have yet to see the full document but this was tweeted by @youseftuqan this week and it kind of puts everything in perspective for me as far as Dubai and its rather contradictory laws go: "Hey, its okay to have nightclubs and serve alcohol but please, no kissing in public or off you go to jail!"

However, what really sets me off is the chauvinist attitude towards women in general and female 'purity' in particular all over the world. Can one even comprehend the humiliation of filling out a form like this? Forget the form. The fact is that there is an inherent trait of male hypocrisy when it comes to the concept of virtue even in this day and age that is simply baffling.

This is not something reserved for the Muslim culture as foreign media may have us believe, the notion exists across the world. It is the same reason why brides are dressed in white to symbolise chastity. Pre-marital philandering is cool if  you are a man but sluttish for women, even in the west.  Desdemona was killed by Othello on the suspicion of infidelity and Sita had to walk across burning coals to prove her purity. Agnipariksha indeed!

But The Emiraties, with their deep pockets and their confusing sense of justice, have just taken the matter to a whole new level of ridiculous.

We as Pakistani's or the liberals among us, seen around Karachi in several states of disorientation have subdivided the whole underclass of female society into two further categories, the ones we party with and the ones we marry. Of course, we can be creative that way. Even if we are gutsy enough to take the same woman home to mum she has to behave in the conventionally conservative and naive manner or she will not only never be accepted as a bahu but will end up as a social pariah on the account of not being “happily married.”  God forbid if even after these trials she is married and the husband dies. A whole new chapter of misery begins as the word “remarry” does not exist in our dictionary, in its place is a torn piece of the page charred and burnt as the one who dares to utter this word would be.

Basically, its male insecurities which lead us to treat the fair sex in this manner, the inability to accept the fact that they are like us and in some cases  far stronger mentally (try putting a infant to sleep at 3am instead of grunting and rolling the other way) which leads us to this state of paranoia. In this state, we the men, try to suppress them in any way possible so that we never have to look ourselves in the mirror and answer some hard questions - questions about standards of morality and sin which our religion holds both sexes accountable for, not just women

I think its time we stop touting symbols from our history and start following some of them in letter as well as in deed. Our religion and our culture do not allow us to treat women the way they are being treated in today's Pakistan and we must put a stop to this. For the first thing the generation to come will learn will be from their mother - no matter how cool the father thinks he is.
Faisal Kapadia A Karachi based writer who blogs at and tweets @faisalkapadia (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Rimdiq | 13 years ago | Reply I'm impressed by all the men who've commented and Faisal's attempt in the article!!Seriously wih we have more liberals like this in our for Dubai, man its cultural standards and levels of hypocrisy are far worse than those existing in Pakistan and I say that knowing we're really really low on that spectrum!
Shabbir Bukhari | 14 years ago | Reply We have an anti-women culture....It seems in Pakistan that the concept of virtue applies only to women.The men in our society are chauvinistic and repressive.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ