Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When can a woman be left alone to be a man?

What the courts in Pakistan needed in order to prosecute 31 year-old Shumail Raj for homosexuality (Transsexual couple jailed for lying about husband’s gender, Times May 28th) was a 'confession' that she was indeed still a woman, and so they extracted one apparently without much difficulty. The problem now facing Shumail who underwent two sex-change operations in Pakistan in order to marry her female cousin, is that they were not entirely successful. So she is not yet a he because, although they have removed her uterus and breasts, he does not have a penis. The bride’s father wants the marriage revoked on the grounds that it is against Islam for two women to marry. It is more likely in this case, however, that the father was pissed off with the fact that as long as Shumail and Shazina's love marriage was considered legitimate, he could not force his daughter into another marriage that would have settled a long-running family feud.

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Nizar Sagieh on MERIP, “We Invite People to Think the Unthinkable”:
"the study of actual Arab history—laws, practices, poetry—is the best way for society, and in particular homosexuals, to reconcile with the Arab memory regarding homosexuality and also to find out the rational rules for the present time. For example, some notions in the Arab legal heritage may constitute a basis for the right to privacy, such as the well-known precept " man satar 'ala muslim satar Allah 'alayhi" ("whoever keeps confidential information related to unlawful sexual acts, his/her reputation will be preserved by God"). At any rate, Hurriyyat always focuses on the public interest. We try to prove that the criminalization of homosexuality in Arab history was related to the Islamic regime requirements ( rationalité axiologique, to use Weber's classification), and has never been justified by reasons inherent to homosexuality (rationalité intrinsèque)."

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