Erasure of Women in the Arab World

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Erasure of Women in the Arab World

In Geraldine Brooks’ Chapter 2 of Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women “Whom No Man Shall Have Deflowered before Them”, the author relates different experiences she had in the Arab world. She first describes a scene in an Ethiopian hospital where a doctor, Abrehet Gebrekidan, is operating on a young woman who suffers from complications resulting from having over one-third of her clitoris removed. This procedure, cliterodectomy, is common in patriarchal societies, and is often followed by infibulation which consists of sewing the vagina shut (Brooks 33). Brooks then travels to Iran where she is met with honor killings. An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. (Brooks 44). Her meeting in Saudi Arabia with the chair-person of a famous oil company shows controversy and hypocrisy in today’s interpretation of religion. Although she portrays women in various contexts and different cultures, these women have one thing in common: their minimization in society. Firstly, cliterodectomy and infibulation – or female ‘circumcision’ – are brutal and effective methods to erase a woman’s ability to experience sexual pleasure. This is one of the major differences between male and female circumcision. Male circumcision, practiced by many different religions, is not thought to adversely affect male sexual performance or diminish sexual desire it is then relatively safe whereas female ‘circumcision’, or should I say, genital mutilation, is performed to induce fear of excruciating pain while having coitus. I believe that the assault on female genitalia is motivated by the unscientific belief that women are prone to lewd behavior and that, for the sake of themselves and their families, their libido has to be suppressed. In my opinion, men who encourage this practice seek...
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