Monday, July 16, 2012

Nikah Mut'ah- Legal Prostitution in Islam - Egypt's Summer Brides

Nikah Mut'ah in Islam is a 'temporary marriage' whereby people can hitch up, do the deed for as long as the contract allows, and then part ways without feeling they've done anything sinful. Although it was permitted during Mohammad's time, the Sunni believe he eventually banned it, whereas the Shia still encourage the practice.

In other words, a man or a woman can be as skanky and promiscuous as they like (though there is a two month waiting period) but that convenient 'Mut'ah' saves their reputation. I'm not sure how they handle the whole issue of needing to be a virgin when they marry, but they've got those hymenoplasties to fix that, I suppose. I wonder if they have to divulge how many mut'ahs they've had when they finally get married permanently, if they can?

But try as they might to justify the practice,  it's really nothing more than Islam-sanctioned prostitution. Take the 'summer marriages' discussed in this article in the Independent, where under-age girls are pawned off (for money) to foreigners visiting Egypt for the summer.

Hundreds of under-age Egyptian girls are entering temporary marriages with rich tourists from the Persian Gulf during the summer in return for money for their families, a US report has found. These unions, dubbed summer marriages, are not legally binding, and end when the foreigners return to their own countries.

The marriages are organised by intermediaries who link wealthy men, mainly from Saudi Arabia, with poor families with young daughters, for commission. The foreign "husbands" give families money and presents akin to a dowry, with the "bride price" ranging between the equivalent of £320 and £3.200.

A recent US State Department report "Trafficking in Persons" found that wealthy men from the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, travel to Egypt to buy "temporary" or "summer marriages" with Egyptian females, including girls under 18, and that these arrangements are often facilitated by the girls' parents and marriage brokers. The report found that children involved in the temporary marriages suffer both sexual servitude and forced labour as servants to their "husbands".

Egypt has laws designed to combat trafficking, which state that it is illegal to marry a foreigner when there is an age difference of more than 10 years. Nevertheless, there are ways to circumnavigate this, with one common practice being to forge birth certificates to make the girls appear older, and the men younger. In 2009, a court in Alexandria sentenced two marriage registrars to two years in prison for conducting temporary marriages of hundreds of girls under 18, but non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say that this is the tip of the iceberg, and that more needs to be done to implement existing laws.

Sometimes the girls have no say, others do it out of filial duty to help support the family. And often these girls are taken out of the country where they are then forced to work as servants for the first wife. But whether they are released from the marriage and stay in Egypt, their lives are pretty much ruined especially if they get a kid in the bargain.

Many abandon their offspring out of shame, either taking them to orphanages or leaving them to join thousands of other Egyptian street children. Some girls find themselves cast in a cycle of temporary marriages with Gulf tourists, and others are targeted by Egyptian men who marry them in order to force them into prostitution.

According to Dr Hoda Badran, chair of the Alliance for Arab Women, poverty is a major factor in Mut'ah marriages.

"If those families are in such a need to sell their daughters you can imagine how poor they are. Many times, the girl does not know she is marrying the husband just for the short term. She is young, she accepts what her family tells her, she knows the man is going to help them. If the girl is very poor, sometimes it is the only way out to help the family survive."

Many seem to think they will get more out of these marriages than they actually do. Take "Aziza" who at 17 married a Saudi man almost triple her age. Dr. Badran says he paid £2,120 for the girl, plus a promise of a job for her brother. They were 'married' for a month- he wined and dined her, impregnated her, then dumped her. He had told her she would join him later, but that never happened.

She waited for several months and, by this time heavily pregnant, tried to get hold of him through the Saudi embassy so her child could be formally recognised by him. However, her marriage was not officially registered which meant that Aziza could not prove her claim. She had no choice but to go back to her family and raise her baby as a single mother, something extremely frowned upon in Egypt's conservative society.

I'm sure it eases their pious Muslim consciences to enter into a 'temporary' marriage, but it's just a piece of paper, and if it's not 'registered' I can't imagine it would even be 'legal' in Islam.


Abdul Rehman said...

In those days hundreds of girlz were taken into custody after conquring their cities as their relatives or guaridiens were killed.
Mutah in Islam is temporary mariage which is virtue for such women who otherwise would be killed or used as prostitutes or servents.Under muttah they get full protection through their temporary husbands as well as food and shelter.and if women behave well keep themselves clean they become permanent wife.
Every law is abused so is this so dont blame this law rather the society in which its misused

Incognito said...

If they behave well? What a chauvinist thing to say. It sounds like a possession. If you like it, you keep it, if not you return it? I'm sorry but that's just sick.

There are some religious laws that might have been appropriate back in the dark ages when cities were pillaged an womn raped by conquering tribes, but they're not relevant in modern times. This is one of them.

But thank for your input. We don't agree.