Female Activist Says Legalize Sex-Slavery

A female political activist and former parliamentary candidate prescribes sex-slavery as a means of protecting Kuwaiti men from committing adultery, according to the Kuwait Times and the Arabic news website, Al Arabiya.

In an online video the activist, Salwa Al-Mutairi, insists that Kuwaiti men could avoid moral corruption by purchasing non-Muslim women from an “enslaved maid” sex agency, if such a service were legally available. Otherwise, pious men may continue to be tempted by attractive household servants (who may go so far as to cast sensual spells).


Sex-slavery would protect the chastity of both men and women, she claims.

Since she sees non-Muslims as something less than human, Islamic men can’t commit adultery by having sex with them. Al-Mutairi reasons thusly: “The rules regulating sex-slaves differ from those for free women [i.e., Muslim women].” She explains, “The latter’s body must be covered entirely, except for her face and hands, whereas the sex-slave is kept naked from the bellybutton on up — she is different from the free woman; the free woman has to be married properly to her husband, but the sex-slave — he just buys her and that’s that.”

Meanwhile, pious women would be protected from sex-crazed men.

While not scripturally based, she insists the practice is not religiously forbidden. After all, several sheikhs and muftis in Mecca assured her that sex-slavery was perfectly legal under Sharia.

I see the problem here not as religion, but the mindset. Every Muslim I know would be completely appalled by a call for sex-slavery. Or by Al-Mutairi’s view that non-Muslims are something less that human.

Religion and religious advisors can say all sorts of crazy things. The Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament (scriptures Jews and Christians share) recommend that disobedient children, Sabbath breakers, homosexuals and adulteresses all be killed. And God either approves or orders the destruction of several cities and communities. It’s just that today no one pays attention to these extreme passages.

Of course, it’s not just religion. Similarly strange notions can come out of culture, too. New York Times columnist, Nick Kristof, tells a story in Half the Sky that is eerily similar to Al-Mutairi’s proposal. When Kristof asked Indian border guards why they didn’t stop young Pakistani girls from being brought into the country to be trafficked in the sex trade, the guards felt that since there will always be prostitution, it’s better to bring in girls from a lower class (and presumably lower morals) to save the Indian girls’ virtue as future wives of the same men who will frequent the prostitutes.

What of the ethics of Al-Mutairi’s proposal? Is morality grounded in religion? Doesn’t seem like it, given the religiously stained horror of nearly everything written above.

Additionally, must we accept that all cultural practices and perspectives are equally worthy? In most cases I agree with the tenants of cultural relativity: don’t judge a society’s practices if you live outside of it. But I’m not a moral relativist.

I ground my ethics in reason and human rights with this question in mind: Is anyone being harmed? If someone is being killed or crippled, physically, spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually, the behavior is wrong, regardless of culture.

Clearly, slavery wounds. So would the ongoing rape that this setup would entail.

When powerful groups profit by exploiting the powerless among them, I call that immoral. Certainly, sheikhs and muftis who declare sex-slavery acceptable under Sharia would personally benefit from satiated libidos, but at great cost to enslaved women. Regardless of what they claim their religion allows.

Related posts on BroadBlogs
Must We Be Nazis to Criticize Them?
Don’t Reject Your Culture, Even When It Mutilates You
Did Women Create Burqa Culture?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 13, 2011, in feminism, gender, sex and sexuality, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is slavery, no matter what. And slavery is never acceptable. You cannot buy another human being and force them to do what you want. That is extremely immoral. I don’t understand how anyone can think this is okay to do. It is in no way acceptable for a human to buy another human to own. Especially when they are both equal, no matter what ranked classes they are in.

  2. This was a crazy read to me, how could anyone see it okay to not only keep someone against their will, but rape them against it too!! That is just plain sicking to me!! Some people just amaze me with their ridiculous solutions to certain problem they face!!

  3. This is preposterous. It is slavery! Which makes it a bad thing automatically. No one wants to be enslaved against their will. All nations should become egalitarian and make slavery, trafficking, and prostitution illegal. Basically what I got from this article is that in order to protect the virtue of those from a higher class, people would voluntarily bring girls from lower class into the sex trade. That is disgusting! No one deserves that. I don’t understand how people can justify this.

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