Synopses & Reviews
A unique and often shocking testimony, Honour and Shame gives access for the first time to the world of Iraqi women. Ranging from executives to illiterate housewives, the women speak with extraordinary frankness of sex and marriage, physical and mental violence, the fear of scandal, and their indoctrination into the ideology of honour and shame.
Their words are frequently moving: 'We started to have problems the first day we met. He raped me in the train on our wedding day. I was 13 years old.' 'Sex is the most important thing to my husband. He always wants me to dress up in my sexiest nightgown and respond happily and willingly to all his desires...To tell you the truth, I don't care much about sex.' 'He beats me whenever he feels angry or upset. I always forgive him. I say to myself, where can I go after all?'
On the basis of an in-depth study conducted over several years, the author -who herself comes from this society- builds a picture of Iraqi women's lives from birth to old age. Although the book's main focus is on Iraq, there are many thought-provoking cross-cultural comparisons between Third World women and women in Western societies.
About the Author
Sana al-Khayyat was born in Iraq, and holds a PhD in sociology from Keele University. She lives in the UK.
Table of Contents
Ethnic and Religious Background
Fear of Being Interviewed Home and the Outside World
1. The Pressure to Conform
The Ideology of Honour and Shame
Attitudes towards Girls
Growing up Female -the Concept of Femininity
The Family Name
Virginity and Chastity
Mothers and Daughters
Parents and Daughters
A Daughter's Education
Life for Children Today
2. 'Choosing' a Partner
Traditional and Contemporary Marriages
Marriage between Cousins
Love and Marriage
Girls' Expectations of Future Husbands Fate and Destiny
Why Women Marry
3. Worlds Apart: Sexual Life for Women and Men Attitudes towards Sex
Sex and Knowledge Sex and Duty Sex and Love
Companionship in Marriage
Husbands as Outsiders
Husbands who Drink
Going Out Together
Women and Leisure
Relationship with the In-Laws
Important Events in a Woman's Life
Death and the Mourning Period
5. Majida, Muna and Sabiha: Three Case Studies
An Egyptian Comparison
6. The Daily Grind: Housework
The Iraqi House and its Upkeep
The Iraqi Meal
Other Household Jobs
Husbands and Housework
Gadgets and Servants
Working Mothers 'Rewards' for Housework Training for Domesticity
7. Independence: Is Divorce a Solution?
Independence within Marriage
Ending a Marriage
Women's View of Liberation
Traditional Oppression and the Resulting Conflicts for Women
Options for Change
The Impact of Modernization
Has Education Made any Difference?
Has Paid Work Made any Difference?
Domestic Work and Paid Work, the Undervaluation of Women's Labour
Appendix I: Personal Information about Interviewees and their Families
Appendix II: Education, Qualifications and Occupations of Interviewees and their Families