Virtue, at what cost?

Published: July 15, 2010
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A marriage application form in Dubai may contain a humiliating tenet for women.

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

Faisal Kapadia

A Karachi based writer who blogs at deadpanthoughts.com and tweets @faisalkapadia (twitter.com/faisalkapadia)

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

  • Shumaila

    Bravo! What a cuttingly-written, superb article.Recommend

  • http://zeitgeistpolitics.wordpress.com Alexander Lobov

    Solid post, Faisal, great work.Recommend

  • http://aamirwrites.blogspot.com Piscean

    Mr.Faisal I must applaud you for your work,it honest, real ,relevant and thought provoking.Its time that we men reconsider our attitudes towards women (other minorities) in general.double standards simply have to goRecommend

  • http://tribune.com.pk Jahanzaib Haque

    This is saddening more than shocking.

    Recommend

  • Noor Muhammad

    You should have, ideally, written/published this article after verifying the ‘tweet’.Recommend

  • arsalan amjad

    that section in the form is shocking! More than shocking it’s sickening that women have to verify their purity whereas men are allowed to go scot free.Where is the section asking the man to state he’s a virgin?? Such disgusting doubled standards are a testament to the barbarians we still are.

    There is an obsession with female virgins in our culture,if the girl isn’t a virgin the guy doesn’t want to marry her,but what about the chastity of the man?? Such blatant hypocrisy is disgusting & it’s just not only found in uneducated,rural men but the A’levels educated,urban,upper class men have this same dark ages mentality.Recommend

  • Z

    This has just been going around Twitter recently, but have never seen or heard of it before. Not a very smart idea to publish an article about it without checking whether it’s true or not. Did not expect this from Faisal. Disappointing.

    The point made in the article is correct, but the generalization at the beginning without checking for facts is like spreading a stupid joke around. For one, look at the picture. Doesn’t really seem like a screenshot. And since when did court marriage forms need to be filled online?Recommend

  • http://shaistathinks.wordpress.com Shaista Hussain

    Bravo Faisal. Brilliant post that hits right home!
    Regards.Recommend

  • Hira Shah

    nothing can be done until and unless women themselves decide that they have had enough and its time for a change now.
    PS: treat other women as humans too! they have to understand that when we talk about women rights, it means ALL the women. not just themseleves or their daughters or their sisters.Recommend

  • http://www.deadpanthoughts.com F.K

    Thanks a bunch for the support, this form’s existence has now been confirmed! It is available at:

    http://www.dubaicourts.gov.ae/portal/page?pageid=53,72555,5372583:5372654:5381286&dad=portal&schema=PORTAL

    Or the screenshot http://www.flickr.com/photos/faisalk/4798695458/Recommend

  • http://improbableletters.wordpress.com nskyz

    @Z, it doesn’t matter if this actually exists or not, because it might as well. I think you fail to understand the point.Recommend

  • http://www.zeitgeistpolitics.com Alexander Lobov

    Guys,

    In defense of Faisal originally posting this without providing supporting links, I’d like to remind everyone that this is a blog post and not a newspaper report. Blogging is about being able to share your thoughts and ideas quickly, informally and off-the-cuff. Some bloggers do choose to do so more formally but there is no code of ethics for bloggers, either spoken or unspoken, like there is for journalists.

    The benefit of this is that you get a much wider range of information and opinion much faster and then the choice to either trust in the veracity of the source or disregard it is entirely up to you.

    Of course you can still choose to be disappointed in Faisal if that’s how you’re inclined, such is the democratic nature of blogging, but I suggest opening your minds a little bit. In my opinion, what Faisal is saying in this piece about attitudes towards women and his comments on Dubai are the real takeaways and they still hold plenty of water, whether or not the marriage form is verified.Recommend

  • Shabbir Bukhari

    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.Recommend

  • Rimdiq

    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 society..as 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!Recommend