Donations from readers like you allow us to do what we do. Please help us continue our work with a monthly or one-time donation.

Donate Today

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to receive daily or weekly MEMRI emails on the topics that most interest you.

Request a Clip

Media, government, and academia can request a MEMRI clip or other MEMRI research, or ask to consult with or interview a MEMRI expert.
Request Clip
Feb 02, 2005
Share Video:

Egyptian Intellectuals Discuss the Female Body and Honor

#540 | 02:37
Source: Dream TV (Egypt)

The following are excerpts from a debate between Egyptian author, Muna Hilmi, and lawyer Nabih Al-Wahsh. Dream2 TV, Egypt aired this debate on February 2, 2005:

Muna Hilmi: The male culture in which we live – its central motif is the female body. If women's bodies were their own property, male culture would collapse. Male culture is based on the claim that women's bodies aren't their own property, but rather they are the property of their fathers, their husbands, or their brothers.

Nabih Al-Wahsh: In my opinion, taking the issue of virginity lightly will open the door to moral corruption. If we aren't strict on the issue of virginity we won't be able to keep tabs on what happens. The incidence of rape cases has reached a frightening level. Have you ever read about a modest and devout woman who was raped? Those who get raped are those who adorn themselves.

Host: No, we have read...

Nabih Al-Wahsh: No, there hasn't been a single modest and devout woman who follows her traditions and religion that was raped.

Host: It does happen. She was raped because the rapist was a sick man.

Nabih Al-Wahsh: No. Such a thing never happened.

Muna Hilmi: Why didn't those who raped her obey the commandments of your religion and treat her with respect?

Nabih Al-Wahsh: Because she was promiscuous. Because it was she that encouraged them to rape her.

Muna Hilmi: Ah, I see, she's to blame for everything.

The young people's problem is that they can't find work, a place to live, money, television that shows good programs. They don't have families who listen to them, there is no university in which they can study well. They take private lessons, even though they don't have any money. They can't marry, or find a place to live, and when they graduate university they don't find work. These are young peoples' problems. Their problem isn't that the Prophet fought against God knows who…If only we could be like the West, with its discoveries, science, theories, and progress. In the two hours we've been discussing the hymen, they have already invented something of use to humanity. We have been talking for two hours about the hymen, and they have already invented a hundred thousand inventions to treat diseases and to make humans' lives easier, and we are still talking about whether a woman is honorable or not.

Nabih Al-Wahsh: I'm proud to talk about the hymen but that is not…

Muna Hilmi: I hope you're not going to describe the West as though it's immoral because that's not true.

Nabih Al-Wahsh: Let them invent whatever they want - that doesn't mean that there is something wrong with us, with our way of doing things…

Muna Hilmi: The problem is in our way of thinking.

There are children in the street that can't find what to eat, and they are poor and can't find what to wear, but no panels discuss this and nobody gets involved. But you do see people who get upset about half a woman's arm showing, about whether it's permitted or forbidden to wear short sleeves or full sleeves. But they have no interest in the poor children in the street or the oppression…

Share this Clip: