By Umer Ali
When getting married, a typical Pakistani man while looking for a beautiful wife who is compatible to his nature, also want her to be a virgin. He doesn’t care as much about her education, her family background, and her habits or even the way she communicates as much as he does for her virginity. The question here must be that why is he so obsessed with a girl’s virginity? Why does he want nothing but an intact hymen while marrying?
The problem is not only with Pakistani society. It expands to Arabian and African countries as well. While Non-Muslims under this mania might have their own reasons, the purpose a Muslim has behind this fascination is mainly religious and patriarchy.
“Unclean women are for unclean men, and unclean men are for unclean women; and pure women are for pure men, and pure men are for pure women. They are free from the slanderer’s accusations; for them there shall be forgiveness and honorable provision from Allah”, says Quran in Surah An-Nur, Ayah 26. Following this ayah, a Muslim man thinks that he needs a pure woman as a wife assuming he himself is pure too. In his mind is the same ayah because he believes that being a momin himself, it is his right to have a wife who is untouched. Apart from that, most of the South Asian and African men consider themselves better than women. The existing patriarchal systems allow men to get away with literally everything while a small mistake committed by girl could bring her severe consequences, even death.
Although mindsets are changing, Negar Farshidi still believes that “It is still widely accepted that a groom can make his marriage conditional on the bride remaining a virgin, and cancel it if it turns out she isn’t. “ As sickening as it seems, men create an egoistic issue out of it and having a virgin wife is a matter of honor and pride for them. In some parts of Pakistan and Iran, a bloodstained bed sheet is considered as an evidence of girl’s virginity and elders of the couple congratulate each other after seeing it.
There are lots of cases when marriage was annulled because the wife didn’t turn out to be a virgin. One such case came in spotlight when a French court declared a Muslim couple’s marriage void because she wasn’t a virgin and admitted to having sex with someone else before her wedding. Another of many cases making it to the news was of Indonesian Police, while recruiting women, made it compulsory for them to be virgin and even conducted virginity tests.
While all this is happening, females face worst kind of discrimination and coldblooded treatment in the name of Female Genitals Mutilation. Considered as severe violation of rights, this practice causes serious physical and psychological effects and is currently linked to as much as 30 countries mainly located in African and Middle Eastern region.
This stark act involves cutting a girl’s clitoris with a knife. While some consider it as a religious ritual, others think it is important for her virginity and thus preserves a family’s honor. In a documentary made on FGM practiced in Iran, one of the cutters said, “It needs to be done otherwise a girl would have so much sexual desire it would be scandalous”.
The concern here is that a girl’s character is judged by a bloodstained bed sheet. If it doesn’t have blood on it, she definitely isn’t a good person and must have slept with someone else. This gross judgment based on an equally gross method may even lead to her death; all done in order to preserve the integrity and completely forgetting the scientific fact that some girls never bleed. While these medieval practices are still common with new, advanced ways of checking if a girl’s hymen is broken, how can one be sure that it’s always girl’s bad character or pre-marital relations and not the result of an accident? More importantly, there is no technique to check a male’s virginity. While he aspires an untouched wife and confirms it through tests, how can he guarantee his own purity?
The problem seems to be deeply rooted in Muslim society. We are lured into imagining 72 virgins who are waiting for us in the life after. While lust for these 72 virgins had numerous young men doing suicide attacks, it affected the mindsets of others as virginity is considered something important and chaste. This gets worse when clerics like Tariq Jamil picture the graphic details of women of paradise, taking the young minds into the world of enjoyable fantasies.
This grave crisis we face is a continuation of other inhumanly practices existing in our society. Either settling scores or seeking revenge, women are the one targeted. Satti in one case, vani in the other. We need to come out and openly denounce these practices to eradicate the issues our society face. We must condemn the barbaric acts like FGM and create the awareness that virginity is nothing but a perception and there is more to marriage and women than their virginity.