By Evan Darraji, Iraq
Scientific definition of Hymen: The thin membrane located inside the woman’s vagina, a few centimeters in depth, tearing after penetration either by sex or otherwise.
Is the Hymen a natural evolutionary requirement (according to Darwin) and not a moral requirement? Some animals also have hymens, such as the platypus, elephants, whales, llamas, sea cows, moles, chimpanzees, rats and lemurs.
Social definition of the hymen: a measure of honour on the basis of the girl’s chastity and virginity – no sex before marriage in Arab, Indian and some African countries!
Scientific definition of me as a woman: A live human being who has all the characteristics of other living things, such as breathing, needing nutrition, growing, reproducing, and who is characterized by thinking and production and development through thought and action.
Social definition of a woman: A human-being the oriental society puts under the category of ‘Woman’ – and I’m proud to be female but according to their concepts it means I am the weaker sex who is always ranked second after the Man under The Order of God, the tribe and the support and approval of laws is based on this.
I am a producer who has duties towards self, family and community more than Rights. Because I’m the plowed one, and odd if I reject sex with my husband, and ordered in the house of obedience, and dominated, and share a husband with two, three, or four others in accordance with the Quran. And I am to be withheld, transformed into a mummy by covering my neck in a hijab, hit and abandoned and punished and imprisoned or stoned to death, governed and controlled by the male parent (the Lord of the Family, no matter how old or young he is), cannot go out and get married, I am issued with a passport or identity card, cannot travel except with his consent; who is married even before reaching puberty. I cannot always win my freedom because the authorization for divorce is given by my husband only; am a governess, an obedient servant who has the largest share of hell and the torments of God to come later!
Since the birth of baby girl among the Muslims is a disgrace to be concealed, because she is not born male, she represents a shortfall, an- inferiority … a potential tool of delinquency. And to her shame is every attempt to commit a sexual act with a man before marriage. She is a tool for rape, sin and incest, and even theft because men can steal her modesty with a leer.
In short, sin is diagnosed. They create sexual desire, this desire which is itself sinful for men. And it constitutes a permanent threat to the girl and Islamic ethics. It is a potential tool for crime, for slaughter by the father or brothers to wash their blemished honor. So the honor of Muslim men is washed with the blood of girls.” [i]
I am a human being who works, supports, assumes, produces, begets children, raises them, is persecuted and has the majority of her rights violated religiously and legally. And if I do something against these codes will be subjected to what is called an honour killing – stoned to death or imprisoned.
I am the human being sold as flesh and bought in many forms in the name of marriage!
I am not seen as a human being but as just a few centimeters between her thighs. Turn the world upside down and shake the thrones if blood doesn’t flow on the wedding night (first marriage)! Make sure of my virginity, my honour, my reputation, purity and chastity while I clamp my hand to my cheek waiting for the man tearing my virginity, while I forget my right to live a natural life like other creatures, including man, my right to feelings and to keep myself from pain and disease.
Thus I will be honored by my family and my tribe, preserve my religiousness and maintain the values of my community.
I’m under the man just because he does not have a hymen.
We can’t on this basis ensure he keeps the honor of his family, his religion and the values of his society.
Women’s bodies spin like a shadow around men – humiliated, guilty, concerned, threatened, dirty, unclean, the source of a narrowness and sin. These tools are the forbidden that are coveted, hidden and displayed, trapped and coerced. The feminine body is a hidden sex object, reprehensible and defective, like instruments which are essential for sex but which they are ashamed to use. [ii]
Recently some governments and authorities reinforced the tribal practices which are regressive, suppress freedom and lead to patriarchal violence against women, including permitting the examination of a girl to legally establish her virginity before marriage to assure the man and his family the goods they’ve bought are brand new!
In real terms, just because a girl is a virgin girl it does not necessarily mean nobody has touched her. Nowadays she can do what she wants because the membrane can be restored with minor surgery, or even a fake hymen used – an industrial membrane made inChinawhich costs less than three dollars!
This way she can deceive a husband and his family and by cunning assume the mantle of chaste virgin!
Is this really what you want, to be fooled by few fake drops of blood, to fool yourself for some kind of peace of mind? What is the difference in reality between a fake hymen and one that is torn and unrepaired?
If the honor and chastity, reputation and preservation of the values and habits of society are determined by the state of a hymen how can we make sure that a man keeps to the codes if he does not have a hymen to prove it? This allows him free reign of his natural behaviour, freedom to enjoy his rights at the expense of women. But while she is the object of male desire she is also the forbidden – and this is the great double-standard.
This duality is one of the fundamental pillars upon which the collective consciousness rests.
When I’m talking about the Arab consciousness in general I do not mean all Arab intellectuals, journalists, writers, artists and researchers. But these represent only a small minority against the vast majority still suffering under the yoke of this tradition. That is what I mean the collective consciousness.
Thus the Arab awareness in its present form has one face missing – that of the critic who believes in evolution … If asked about religion and faith can only answer with the faith of the righteous and if asked about science knows only the science that is Divine. Scientific knowledge is abrogated, reason is handed down. And if asked about ethics or justice will only praise their own justice and morality.
“So why continue with Arab culture? Where is the historical development? Where is the transition from the old, how will new thinking avoid old mistakes? [iii]
Some of you may be angry because I link these problems with Islam but they are two sides of the same coin. They are ideas which support each other to form a dogma forcing us to live by the culture of people from history despite changing conditions and the need to change ideas. Instead man’s ideas being used in the service of mankind his life is adapted to suit them.
Such a culture worships individuals, reduces history to a single moment, and the individual at the head of the culture becomes a tyrant whose tyranny cannot be maintained only through violence.
Honor is not between the thighs of women, or between the thighs of men. Honour begins with words and is never ending in all man does to represent his honour – in his work, his purity, his devotion to his country, his dedication to his family.