Earlier this month, I wrote about the sexual violence that occurs in societies which radically repress and restrict relationships between consenting adults. Another consequence is the strange acrobatics one must perform to circumvent the system in place, or to legitimate their actions within the purview of the system.
For instance, in Iran, sex before or outside of marriage is prohibited by law. Indeed, the accusation of an extramarital affair can lead to a 'stoning to death' sentencing by the revolutionary courts. So the rule is serious. But there is another rule, called sigheh, legally known as a "temporary marriage". It's a term used for what most places would simply call sexual intercourse between two people who are not co-habitating marital partners. Sigheh does not even need to be registered and can last as little as five minutes, or up to 99 years. In other words, it's good for a quickie, or for a long-term relationship without a wedding. As Elaine Sciolino writes, "Sigheh legally wraps premarital sex in an Islamic cloak."
So in the same Islamic Republic which obsessively prizes virginity,...More >>