By Bernie on 24 Feb 2013
This is a very heart-breaking story. I know we have prostitution in America and so I expect some readers to ask, "What's the big deal about prostitutes in a Muslim country like Iran? Aren't there women like this all over the world?" But I don't recall reading of America's prostitutes routinely hitting the pavement with their kids in tow. In addition, how many hookers in this country would be willing to ply their trade if the penalty for doing so were death?
Here is the video:
Here is the text for this video:
Minna and Fariba are neighbours and good friends. They support one another. Both have to live under the pervasive curtailment of women's rights and the double standards of today's Iranian society. They make a living walking the streets looking for men. They have a choice between leaving their small children at home alone or bringing them along when they have sex with men.
The film is a sympathetic portrait of the two women, exploring their day-to-day life and the workings of prostitution in a country that bans it and prosecutes adulterers, sometimes with the penalty of capital punishment.
Many of the clients find a way to buy sex and still comply with Muslim law: they marry the women in what is called 'Sighe', a temporary marriage sanctioned in Shia Islam. Sighe can last from two hours up to 99 years. Both Minna and Fariba enter into Sighe with clients, and Fariba is in a Sighe marriage with a neighbour, Habib, that lasts six months. Giving his perspective on temporary marriage, Habib says that Sighe is a way to help poor women, it is an act of mercy in the name of Allah.
The film follows the two women for more than a year. It describes their middle-class backgrounds and their submission to treacherous men and drugs. We see how Fariba manages to quit drugs and prostitution, only to find herself temporarily married to a man who will not let her leave the house.
I expect some Sunni Muslims to excuse this behavior by saying Sighe marriages are strictly a Shiite practice. However Sunni Muslims have their own version, Misyar or traveler’s marriage, so take that story somewhere else:
The adherents of Sunni Islam have been vocal in criticizing the Shia practice of temporary marriage called Muttah. This form of marriage is a valid part of the Shia doctrine and is being followed predominantly in Iran and several parts of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussain. However it might come as a surprise that a similar type of marriage also exists in Sunni Islam. It is known as Misyar or traveler’s marriage. It is carried out in Sunni majority countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria.
A Muttah marriage is conducted in absence of any witnesses. Allah and the Koran are considered as witnesses. Muttah also has a predetermined date of expiry. In Misyar, presence of two adult male witnesses is mandatory. However it does not carry a preset date of termination.
In Misyar, both husband and the wife retain their homes and arrange for visits for a certain number of nights.
The way Misyar or traveler’s marriage works is this: let's say you are a rich old Saudi Muslim and you need to pork some young 13 year old. You fly to India where you arrange a two-week marriage to some poor young girl, give the parents a certain amount of money and bang away until it's time to fly back home. The poor girl will never see you again and will probably never be able to marry again.
Ah, Islam - oppressing women for 1400 years and counting.
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