Pre-marital sex, an issue in Jordan

I am so glad there are bloggers in Jordan and other countries in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) that can actually provide some insightful commentary on social issues facing Arab Muslims throughout that huge region. I am happy then to refer you to a short but insightful commentary from Khalaf over at What's up in Jordan:

An Illegitimate Issue

In the last couple of months, the media has been interested in various cases of abandoned infants, who mostly were born out of wedlock. Being the type of conservative society it is in Jordan, the mothers of these children face dire consequences. The babies are placed in garbage bins or left at doors of mosques.

According to a report in Al Ghad, 36 such children were dealt with through the ministry of social development last year, as opposed to 28 from the year before. In a country where there is a child born every three minutes, the birth of 0.02% of children under these conditions is hardly remarkable, and would hardly warrant mention were it not for the salacious interest in premarital sex.

The government, interested in diverting attention from more substantial problems (like feeding and educating the other 99.98% of children born in the country) has created a committee to study the “phenomenon” of children of “unknown lineage”. The committee includes representatives of the ministries of social development, health, justice, Islamic affairs, and interior, as well the family protection establishment. According to the undersecretary of the ministry of social development, the committee will study the “issue”, and recommend legislative changes “commiserate with the size of the problem and efforts to control it”.

It gets better.

The same Al Ghad report cites unidentified “experts” who blame the “phenomenon” on the lack of deterrent legislation against premarital sex, rising prices, poverty, unemployment, globalization, technological advancement, population growth and integration of heterogeneous groups into society.

The implication is that there were never horny young people in Jordan until sex was thrust upon us by the internet, satellite TV and nasty outsiders with no morals. I must assure everybody that Jordanians always loved SEX. They like to talk about SEX. They like to joke about SEX. They like to fantasize about sex, and yes, they like to practice sex. They always have and they always will, and no amount of preaching will ever change that.

Of course, in the old days, the horny adolescents were married off when they were in their teens (not to suggest that there was no premarital sex even then). Modern social and economic constraints now prevent early marriages.

This is not to say that getting sex nowadays is not easier than before (apparently it is). But this not a reflection of increased desire, but of reduced repression. Repression has its own downsides, like pedophilia, sexual harassment, incest, rape and a dangerous pursuit of heavenly virgins . Not to mention blindness and hairy palms.

Of course, many commentators are shedding tears over degrading morals and lost innocence. Give me a break.

Anyway, the whole “issue” is that of illegitimate children. Will our august committee come up with practical advice, like sexual education or protection and support of the mothers, or will its report be another sermon? Whatever they do, the government now has a social issue on which there are no concrete answers. We will be able to chew on this for years to come, as standards of living decline, and education and health services deteriorate.

But why should we worry about those issues? People are having SEX!

PS: The post on Khalaf's site has some great hyperlinks, so please do check it out.


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