Saturday, 28 January 2012

Polygamy and Women

Sorry for posting somewhat repetitive topics since Susan AlShahri and OPNO have covered this particular topic at length.

As an Omani, it is common to have a relative who is either married to two women or is wishing day and night to marry two. Though it is true that polygamy is a dying art here (up north), it is not something that I have not grew up with. My grandfather was a polygamist. He married two women, the first was his cousin and the second was an orphan (my grandmother). She was nine when my grandfather proposed to her. To those who might want to scream out.. pedophile.. please spare your breath. I was told once by a person who thought a lot of himself that the Prophet (pbuh) was a pedophile for marrying a nine year old. I could not but simply be deeply offended. Though I am not the most religious person on earth and sometimes judgmental on certain aspects of it, I was offended. Simply because I think it is of the utmost stupidity to judge an era with the standards of today.

She lived in a village that was about an hour away from where my grandfather was. I do not know how he heard about her, but her mother owned a date-palm farm. She was a widow at a very young age and had five children to raise. She didn't wear black abayas, covered in all sorts of clothes they make us wear today. No, she wore plain pants that compliments the colorful short Omani dress. She was known to be a strong self determined woman, god bless her soul.

When my grandfather went to their farm, he sat with my great grandmother. By this time, my grandfather had a wife and two girls. His wife, cousin, gave birth to children that died at a very young age. Some died at the age of two and less, others were a few years older. My grandmother knew she had someone coming to propose to her. She was told he was a very old man and she was very nervous and scared. She did not want to marry a white haired man. When he arrived, she snuck behind the door and peaked through the cracked wooden door. "He wasn't old at all," she told us smiling. Apparently, he was around thirty years of age with black hair. "He was handsome," she said blushing.

My great grandmother told him that she was concerned. Her daughter was young, and he had a first wife. If she said yes, then he needed to take good care of her daughter. My grandfather came from a good family. He promised she will be taken care of.
An Omani Bride, from the National Geographic
Her wedding day was simple, as all weddings during that time. They did not have cars and so my grandmother was carried in a camel with another behind her carrying her Mandoos (a wooden chest). That year was a difficult one because as a nine year old, she kept going outside to play with the kids. She laughs every time she tells us that. She didn't have children till she was fourteen.

My grandfather divorced his first wife a few years later. It was her request and he obliged. She did not want to raise another woman's children and I do not think he treated her well.

As for our current times, I do not think polygamy is fair and healthy for the children. I know a couple of families who married a second wife without the knowledge of the first wife. I have a hard time not seeing that as cheating. Throwing the words Bism Allah and Mohammed Rasool Allah does not make a marriage. It is as selfish as someone who plainly cheats and destroys his family.

Men do not marry for religious reasons. They marry a second wife because Islam gives them the right to do so that is all. Today, women's role in the society has drastically changed. A woman is a mother, a wife, a supporter, and a bread winner. She is no longer a weak human being who needs support. Many times she supports herself and her children, and other times she saves up her salary for her children's education. So yes, it would be an insult and hurtful for her to agree to allow a second wife into the equation.

I also do not understand the concept of treating your wives equally since the Quran clearly states that it can never be accomplished. Financially, maybe, but to assume that a woman is okay with her husband taking on another as long as she gets the same number of sleep overs and money is ridiculous. As if that is all a woman should ask for from a man. Wait, does it mean that if the husband has xes with his first wife once a day, he must have it the same amount of times with the other wife? hmm.. I wonder

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

FGM / Female Circumcision in Oman

I had not expected my first blog to be about such a sensitive topic in Oman, but after reading Dhofari Gucci's post and Mimi's on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Oman and some of the responses I had to write something.

Reading about FGM through Sablat Oman and other well regarded discussion bulletin's in Oman, I came to realize that the types of FGM practiced in Oman vary and religious opinion in the matter varies too.

Type I: Clitoridectomy
           Definition: is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of the skin surrounding the clitoris) from WHOThis type of FGM is practiced all around Oman in different variations. 

Type II: Excision:
            Definition: partial of total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision  of the labia majora (the labia are "the lips" the surround the vagina) from WHOThis type of FGM is, I believe, mainly done in Dhofar, sadly. 

Reading about the subject in the different discussion groups, I came to find that many Omanis do not understand the proper Islamic form of female circumcision (though in my opinion, the whole practice is un-Islamic).  You may hear many married Omani women claim they have been circumcised and are happily married, but then you hear a different story from their husbands. Anyway, some of these happily married women have had a ritual-paper cut type of circumcision. Strangely and luckily, they do not cut anything off from the female genitals. Yet, these women still believe they have been circumcised and stand wholeheartedly with the practice. Some do not find out about that paper cut until they have visited an Ob-Gyn, but many others honestly believe that they had their clitoris cut off and their sexual tension has been fixed and they will forever be pious women! 

So, what do these women do? Since hospitals no longer allow circumcision between its walls, these desperate Omani women who think the world of this practice, look for that damned old lady (Nadia's description) to perform it on their own daughters. They will put the future of that little girl in the hands of an old lady who God knows what her vision and hand skills are like. She may pull and cut the whole or a small piece of the clitoris off, or the little girl may be lucky to have that paper-cut ritual. Who knows. 

Some Omanis who live up north travel all the way to the UAE to have FGM done to the little girls. Apparently it is practiced their too. Sometimes I think that it is a good thing hospitals are allowed to do it in UAE. At least it is done in a clean room with sanitized equipment. With the education and directions from the Ministry of Health, these little girls can get the paper-cut "surgeries" instead of those pull-and-cut "mutilation" that is done around here these days. 

A lot of women do not understand that the clitoris is almost exactly the same to the penis in its anatomy. Maybe more education is needed here. I don't know, but don't you think that our Omani men are a bit too sexual? Maybe the head of their penises should be cut off. Just a teeny bit of it. You know, these days we need more pious and sexually fixed men. Just saying. *sarcasm*

I honestly do not understand why Dhofari women with type one or two FGM still support this practice. Why would Mimi's sister perform this on her daughter while holding a master's degree is beyond me. On a brighter note, the practice is starting to disappear up here in Muscat and the Wilayats around it. Not so sure about other places in Oman though.

Religion on Female Circumcision: 

Since many of the discussion forms refer to religious explanations to why circumcision is required, I thought I need to lay those "Islamic" reasons here. But, before I do that, lets explore to the definition of female circumcision in Islamic context:
  • A saying by Um Attyah -God Bless Her-: "A woman who used to perform circumcision in Al Madina, the Prophet said to her: 'Do not abuse, that is better for the woman and loved by her husband'." Narrated by Abu Dawood and corrected by Al Albani. And his saying "Do not abuse" means do not overdue in the cutting of a small piece of the foreskin and do not remove it completely. 
  • What Muslim narrated of Aisha -may God be pleased with her- that the Prophet -peace be upon him- said: "If two circumcised meet, then cleansing is a must". The two circumcised refers to the man and the woman.
  • When Ahmed AlKhalili was asked: "What is the final verdict on female circumcision," he replied with "female circumcision is encouraged in Islam provided that it does  not lead to any damage, and it is not obligatory but as it was said 'an honor for couples'. She has to be circumcised where there is no abuse as the Prophet said to the woman who performed circumcision 'do not abuse' which means do not overdue in removing the excess skin. If there was the experience and the ability to take without abuse and no harm done to the girl, then there is no objection in performing it".
There are many weak Prophet's sayings that people refer to in order to put some validity in the practice. However, from the sayings above, we see that in the Islamic context, circumcision is identical to the one performed on men. The proper way is to remove the excess skin that covers the clitoris. Different sects in Islam have different reasons to why this practice is done to women. The two main contradictory reasons are:
  • A woman is a very sexual being and is always on heat (they are cats all of a sudden), removing a small piece of the clitoris fixes her. It regulates her sexual tension. Also, the clitoris in Middle Eastern woman is very big, and when aroused, it is erected. A man is put off by the site and does not allow him to enjoy the intercourse. 
  • The excess skin over the clitoris should be shaved off a little bit because it exposes the clitoris, which gives a better sexual experience for the women, and it is cleaner for her because it reduces the possibility of getting urinary tract infection and removes the foul smell from the genital areas.
I hope this post sheds some light to the practice. My main purpose here was to explain the practice. Awareness is mandatory and as Nadia has mentioned, the Ministry has failed terribly. I have also seen many threads written about the topic in Arabic and have been closed because it turns into a heated discussion. Also, one last note, I have always thought that men were kept in the dark in regards to this practice. It is true to some extent. However, many do support the practice and sometimes override their wife's decision not to perform the practice on their daughters. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

First Post

Though this is my first post here, I would have to say that this is not my first blog. The blog I used to have a very long time ago has drifted from its main goal. Too many people knew who I was and well, I was not comfortable with that. I missed writing and being part of this community, as an anonymous of course. Also, I think that I started forgetting how to write in English. My Arabic 'sucks' as well. I plan to write and continue writing. We will see where it takes me.

There are many bloggers I follow daily (thanks to my google reader app). I hope some will follow mine and find it an interesting read.