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Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms - Culture - Nairaland

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Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by telexfree1: 8:50pm On Jun 28, 2015
Behind the ancient way of life for the Tuareg tribe of the Sahara is a culture so progressive it
would even make some in liberal western cultures blush. Women are allowed to have multiple
sexual partners outside of marriage, keep all their property on divorce and are so revered by their
sons-in-laws that the young men wouldn’t dare eat in the same room.
What is even more surprising is that even though the tribe has embraced Islam they have firmly
held onto some of the customs that would not be acceptable to the wider Muslim world. It is the
men, and not the women, who cover their faces, for example.

Photographer Henrietta Butler, who has been fascinated by the Tuareg since she first followed
them through the desert in 2001, once asked why this was. The explanation was simple.
‘The women are beautiful. We would like to see their faces.’
But this is certainly not the only place the Tuareg, related to the Berbers of North Africa, differ from the Muslim world of the Middle East, and even other parts of their own continent.
Before a woman marries, she is free to take as many lovers as she wants.
‘They turn a blind eye,’ explained Butler. ‘The young girls have the same great freedoms as the
For years, the men of the Tuareg have been able to ride to a young woman’s tent, and sneak into
the side entrance – while his well-trained camel stands quietly and waits.
There, they will spend the night together – while the family, who all live in the tent, politely
pretend not to notice.
Should the woman choose to welcome a different man into her tent the next day, so be it.
However, there is also a code of practice which none would dare break. Privacy is all important
for this centuries old tribe of nomads, who once crossed the desert bringing dates, salt and
saffron south, and slaves and gold north.
The idea of breaking the rules of courtship would be mortifying; as a result, the man is always
gone before sunrise.
‘The Tuareg are utterly discreet. Everything is done with utmost discretion and respect,’ said
The relaxed customs around sexual partners has resulted in the girls getting married later than
they may otherwise do, with the age of 20 not being uncommon.
Although, before then, they will have been wooed with poetry written by the men, who spend hours
carefully crafting the words which they hope will win their beloved over.
But it is not a one-way street: the women are just as capable of putting pen to paper, using their
own alphabet, taught to them by their mothers.
‘The women also make poetry eulogising the men,’ says Butler. ‘There is high romance and
Unlike in so many other cultures, women lose none of their power once they marry either.

Any visitor who goes to a camp would be vastly underestimating the power of the women in the
tent if they believe their sole duty is to make the food and look after children.
In fact, she owns the home and the animals. And the animals are an invaluable resource to the
Tuareg in the middle of the Sahara.
Journalist Peter Gwin recalled an elderly nomad once telling him: ‘Animals are everything to a
Tuareg. We drink their milk, we eat their meat, we use their skin, we trade them. When the
animals die, the Tuareg dies.’
Many marriages end in divorce among the Tuareg. And when it happens, it is the wife who keeps
both the animals and the tent. And it is she who normally decides that she’s had enough.

It is unlikely there will be any quibbling over who gets what. Pre-nuptial agreements are the norm.
In practice, this often means a man is forced to return home to his mother, possibly with just his
camel and nothing else.
His wife, meanwhile, will keep possession of everything she brought to the marriage and that
includes the children.
The mother’s camp, Butler explains, is the root of the community, the home everyone returns to –
and this arrangement ensures it stays that way.
And there is no shame in divorce. Families will often throw their daughters a divorce party, to let
other men know they are available once more.
But this is not a matriarchal society, where the women are in charge.
Butler explains it is still the men ‘who sit and talk politics’. But even here, the women can be
deferred to. They are often consulted for their views by their sons or husbands, and are quietly
pulling the strings behind the scenes.
However, Tuareg society is matri-lineal, which means the families trace their lines through the
women, rather than the men, right the way back to their first queen.
So, Butler explained: ‘Traditionally, the man would belong to the woman’s group, rather than the
other way around.’
The preference for the women’s line goes as far as man leaving his possessions to his sister’s
son as it ‘is considered a stronger link to your family than to your own son’.
In other words, it can be guaranteed that your sister’s child belongs to your sister, rather than a
man’s son, who cannot be absolutely guaranteed to share his genes.
But there is one tradition which is certainly far more unusual: it is highly rude for a man to eat in
front of a woman who he cannot have sexual relations with, or any of his elders.
In front of his mother-in-law it is especially shameful.
‘I didn’t realise this until the I was having dinner with a Tuareg woman, who had brought her son-
in-law as her travelling companion,’ Butler recalled.
‘We were all sitting down to dinner, and the man has his back turned. She said the poor man was
completely horrified because he has to eat with his mother-in-law.’
But it is unlikely he would have ever complained about it, or felt sorry from himself. The very idea
is horrendous to the Tuareg.
‘You would shame yourself. The Tuareg will go to great lengths to maintain personal dignity. They
will suffer,’ said Butler.
‘If they are not offered water, they won’t ask for it – even if they are thirsty.’
Perhaps for this reason, the Tuareg welcome is legendary. They never forget to offer water, and
travellers who appear on the horizon will always be ‘treated like a king’.

Source: UK Daily Mail/ Henrietta Butler’s new book

Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by Mskrisx(f): 8:52pm On Jun 28, 2015
Read the post but don't know what to comment anyway nice post @op.

1 Like

Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by freakthingz(m): 8:52pm On Jun 28, 2015
Thats a first undecided but in a good way
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by tpiander: 8:55pm On Jun 28, 2015
don't know of it in Nigeria.
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by Nobody: 8:56pm On Jun 28, 2015
Make I just comment sha
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by robinicule(m): 8:59pm On Jun 28, 2015
just in case...i'll come back and read it
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by telexfree1: 11:14am On Jun 29, 2015
Read the post but don't know what to comment anyway nice post @op.

Nice signature. Can I send you a pm ?
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by Mskrisx(f): 11:40am On Jun 29, 2015

Nice signature. Can I send you a pm ?

Ur signature tho cry
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by telexfree1: 1:59pm On Jun 29, 2015

Ur signature tho cry
What's wrong with it?
Re: Islamic Tribe Where Women Embrace Sexual Freedoms by macof(m): 8:31pm On Jun 30, 2015
Great culture but I'll like to know their original Spirituality before the Islamic pollution

I want to use this medium to appeal to people to respect the culture of others

1 Like

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