Why is a woman’s value and worth attached to her virginity?

I was watching this movie, that’s based in a small village in Rajasthan. This village woman, who we shall call SD joined the local government project that raised awareness of child marriages (which still occur in some parts of the world today, despite being illegal and outlawed) and the practise of sati amongst other things. To cut a long story short, the henchmen of the village (tribal leaders) gang rape this woman for being “insolent” and defiant in her awareness campaign.

Despite the movie’s focus on Hindu women, unfortunately the practise of rape as a weapon, not only in war, but generlly against women isn’t restricted to any religion, culture or background.

Isn’t the focus a woman’s virginity- and its association with maintaining her and her families/tribes honour, reputation and the commanded respect they receive as a result, just waves the red flag for potential ways of “taking revenge” or as in the case above, to “teach her a lesson”?

Although in Islam there is an oft mentioned hadith where the Prophet (saw) advised an enquirer to have married a virgin woman as opposed to his choice of an older previously married woman.

Volume 7, Book 62, Number 16:
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:

While we were returning from a Ghazwa (Holy Battle) with the Prophet, I started driving my camel fast, as it was a lazy camel A rider came behind me and pricked my camel with a spear he had with him, and then my camel started running as fast as the best camel you may see. Behold! The rider was the Prophet himself. He said, ‘What makes you in such a hurry?” I replied, I am newly married ” He said, “Did you marry a virgin or a matron? I replied, “A matron.” He said, “Why didn’t you marry a young girl so that you may play with her and she with you?”

However, the less mentioned second half of the story is narrated as follows:

Book 008, Number 3463:
…..He (the Holy Prophet) (in the course of journey said to me): Have you married? I said: Yes. He (again) said: Is it with a virgin or one previously married? I said. With one previously married, whereupon he (again) said: Why not with a young girl with whom you could sport and she could have sported with you? I said: I have sisters, so I preferred to marry a woman who could keep them together (as one family). who could comb them and look after them….

In the above instance, the man in question (Jabr bin Abdullah) chose an older woman as she suited him better owing to his circumstances. However, there is no hard and fast rule in marrying virgins only, so where people spout the message that virgins are better than non-virgins and the ground and pace at which such a view has gained popularity is unknown.

Virgins help in taking a trip down memory lane?>

Volume 7, Book 62, Number 3:
Narrated ‘Alqama:

While I was with Abdullah, ‘Uthman met him at Mina and said, “O Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman ! I have something to say to you.” So both of them went aside and ‘Uthman said, “O Abu ‘Abdur-Rah. man! Shall we marry you to a virgin who will make you remember your past days?” When ‘Abdullah felt that he was not in need of that, he beckoned me (to join him) saying, “O ‘Alqama!” Then I heard him saying (in reply to ‘Uthman), “As you have said that, (I tell you that) the Prophet once said to us, ‘O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, and whoever is not able to marry, is recommended to fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.

Does virginity then demonstrate some obscure link with immaturity? Or innocence? Pastures yet not ventured? Why are virgin women seen (in some cultures) to be more desirable than one who has lost her virginity (either through illegitimate relations – outside of a marriage bond- or through marriage and is now a widow or a divorcee)

Advertisements