Sunday, February 25, 2007

Not for Sale

My friend once went with a guy to his hotel room, and found lots of other men there too. She wouldn't tell me what happened after that, but she was shaking for a long time when she got back home
The above is an extract taken from an interview with a former Thai sex worker. The rest of the article can be read here.

Following the Ipswich murders, there has been renewed interest in the dangers faced by those who sell sex for money.

Some argue that criminalising prostitution is to blame, and that the word prostitute should be replaced by the less judgemental "sex worker".

Again myths are relayed of the "happy hooker", like prostitution is a money making hobby for the over-sexed.

Yet the vast majority of prostitutes are substance abusers, as demonstated in a U.K government report.

So would legalisation actually make much difference for those who sell sex? On the contrary, I feel it would just support the destructive lifestyles of these women. The only people who would benefit are the clients of these women, as they would no longer the shame of getting caught breaking the law.

By being able to purchase a woman, a man is able to feel he can treat her as he wishes. The story above is not an isolated incident. Those who end up as prostitutes are frequently the most vulnerable in society. Amsterdam may have legal brothels, but they are full of trafficked women, and the desperate will still be forced offer to have unprotected sex if it means they earn more money for their pimps.

To encourage prostitution, to normalise it, will only increase the numbers of victims and abusers.

In Sweden, it is not the prostitute who is the criminal, but the client. This has lead to a massive decrease in both the number of prostitutes and the number of people being traffiked into Sweden.

This is taken from the legislation passed:

"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."

This is the real issue at stake and shows what women and society as a whole will lose, by ever allowing prostitution to be accepted

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Everybody Smile......And Act Gracious (It's my wedding party and I'll booty shake if I want to)

Firstly, I will state that my in laws are lovely people and I felt very comfortable staying with them, Alhamdulilah.

So the wedding party. My dress was big and white, but very nice in a confectionary type of way. I had my hair "did". Yulia Tymoshenko would have been proud.

The big shock was the make up. I don't wear much make up, never have. I wore some for my Nikah and it took all of five minutes to do. I know that in the Middle East they are not so into subtle make up (think cosmetic counter ladies). But.. to open your eyes and see yourself wearing drag queen levels of make up. Immediately, noticing the stunned horror on my face, I was reassured by cries of "helou, helou" (pretty in Arabic). I had to mumble that it was more make up then I was used to. I figured with the big hair and the big dress the make would probably make sense, which it did, Alhamdulilah.

As for the party, I was told about dancing, but I don't think I grasped the concept, that I would be dancing by myself in front of everyone (note: the party was female only until my husband arrived). The first dance happened just after I arrived. Thoughout I was thinking "I'm going to kill my husband". Especially as I was shortly put to shame by all the expert belly dancers.

Most people at the wedding were very nice, but sat up on my throne I still felt some hostility. I'm sad to say that but it's true. Eventually, I thought "I've done nothing to hurt these people, I love my husband, we married in a halal manner, being white/non-arab is not a crime, so screw the haters".

The second dance was to "Yeah" by Usher (I know!). I decided not to pretend to belly dance and booty shaked instead. I admit I had the attitude of "You think I'm a bad Western girl, well I'll dance like one". Maybe not the wisest of ideas but the big dress stopped it from looking too lewd and to the nice people there it was seen as me getting into the mood of the party. To the not-nice people, I hope it gave them something to talk about.

Then there was an announcement that my husband was on the way and a flurry of re-hijabing and covering.

The best part of the night was after he arrived. We danced and he presented me with some gold jewellery. He had explained that it was tradition to do this, and he didn't want me to get anything less than what a bride usually gets. Then we had to do the really cheesy stuff like drink from the same glass and feed each other pudding. Although it was cheesy, I was loving every minute.

I went to bed that night with solid hair (It took ten washes to get all the product out of it,not to mention the assistance of my sister in law to remove all the hair pins) eye make up I still couldn't completely remove, but really, really happy, because I married a man who's worth all of this and has a family who made it fun. Alhamdulilah.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fear of a white dress

Blogging is more fun than packing, as are most things, because I hate packing.

Tomorrow, insha Allah, I'm off to the homeland of husband for in-law meetings and wedding party adventures.

I feel a bit sorry for my in-laws really. It must be hard if your son goes abroad to study and comes back married - and married to a white girl too!

Convert or not, white girls get a bad press. The common perception is that they've run out of white or black guys to sleep with and so they've moved on to Arab/Desi men as they are more likely to commit to marriage. White girls are terrible at all aspects of house work and will not take care of their husbands. Finally, they have no desire to live outside of their own country. I was speaking to an Arab friend of mine, and in many films the western women tells her poor neglected husband "It's me or (insert name of country here)".

So many times, being a convert means being made to feel second-best and nowhere is this more apparent then when it comes to choosing a marriage partner. Out and out racism gets covered in a gloss of "similar backgrounds being important". I know that convert brothers and non-white sisters and brothers have an even tougher time. Insha Allah, I will write a proper post on the shoddy way converts are treated when they are looking for a spouse.

Back to the white dress. I feel nervous about wearing it because I feel uneasy at the thought of being judged and found wanting, solely on the grounds of my ethnicity.

I've discussed this with my husband. His feeling is that he is happy with his choice of wife, anyone who thinks differently should keep their opinions to themselves.

The problem is, I don't just want them to keep their opinions private, I want them to not hold such negative views in the first place.

Is that too much to ask?