Sex positivity

Pakistan paper leaves blank space rather than run a piece on women’s sexual liberation

Mona Eltahawy at The Women's Media Center 2015 Awards, on November 5, 2015 in New York City. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for The Women's Media Center)

An opinion piece by Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, “Sex talk for Muslim women,” that was published in the International New York Times last Friday, has found itself subject to a conspicuous ban in Pakistan.

Although the article could be read online there, the newspaper version — which would have run in the opinion section of the local Express Tribune — was replaced by a blank space.

In the piece, Eltahawy confronted the “sexual straitjacket” of virginity imposed on other women of Muslim and Arab descent by men, discussing her decision to have sex before marriage, defying her faith and upbringing. “My revolution has been to develop from a 29-year-old virgin to the 49-year-old woman who now declares, on any platform I get: it is I who own my body,” she wrote. “Not the state, the mosque, the street or my family. And it is my right to have sex whenever, and with whomever, I choose.”

Eltahawy told AFP the censorship showed “a woman who disobeys and who openly claims sexual liberation and pleasure is dangerous and must be silenced” and compared the reaction to the backlash faced by Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy after her documentary about honor killings won an Academy Award in February.

A senior source at the paper told AFP that the newspaper “can’t afford to publish such controversial articles about Islam.”

“Sex is happening, but shrouded in taboo and shame …” Eltahawy said. “As women of colour and women of faith, we need to see women who look like us. Sex positivity isn’t the domain just of white feminism.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Related:

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Outlawing honor killings is just the start

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: “This is what happens when determined women get together”

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