Amānī Abū al-Hasan reports on the controversy raised over the issue of Malaysian Muslim men of religion releasing Fatwás calling on women to wear what is called ’the chastity belt.’
Amānī Abū al-Hasan believes that the issue of Muslim women wearing chastity belts returned to the spotlight after Malaysian Muslim scholars released Fatwás urging Malaysian females to wear such belts in order to protect themselves from being raped.
A chastity belt is crafted from strong metal such as iron that covers a woman’s reproductive organs. Sealed tightly with a strong lock, the belt can only be removed with a key that is recommended to remain in the hands of men from the female’s family.
Abū al-Hasan adds that a lot of discussions followed the news about the Malaysian’s new method of protecting a woman’s honor which spread like wildfire through internet blogs and forums.
Dr. Zubaydah Tharwat, professor of Islamic and Middle Ages History, provides a historical background on chastity belts, explaining that they first appeared in 1095, during the time of the Crusades and lingered for almost two centuries, when men would be away for years on end during times of war. They would use chastity belts as a means of guaranteeing that their wives would remain loyal.
Dr. Tharwat believes that the ’iron cage’ of abstinence was only one of many aspects of disdaining women during Middle Ages; adding that Islam, however, guarantees equality between men and women. She exclaims that discussions about the return of this belt tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims before the world.
[Reviewer: For further information about the history of chastity belts, please see the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chastity_belt]
On the other hand, Dr. Āminah Nusayr, professor of Islamic philosophy, refuses any form of custody over women’s freedom, affirming that just as women are capable of remaining abstinent, men are also capable. She accuses men of religion who released such a Fatwá of being narrow-minded and depriving women of rights granted to them by God.
"Instead of suing ravishers and felons, society tends to punish victims by forcing them to don such iron belts," says Dr. Hudá Zakarīyā, a professor of sociology, adding that whoever claims that women would be protected this way is mistaken.