Saturday, 30 April 2016

What I Learned Having Sex as a Young Woman in Pakistan

By Zahra Haider
April 26, 2016 
Published at Vice.Com (All Rights Reserved, Copyright)
 
Pakistan is an Islamic Republic with the highest porn-watching population in the world. That statement in and of itself signifies a particular aspect about Pakistani culture: we are horny and desperate for sex, but God forbid we actually engage in it. Sex in Pakistan is considered a taboo topic. Men generally aren't judged for it in our patriarchal society but if a woman from a middle-class family or underprivileged background is caught having premarital sex, serious shit goes down.

Women from poorer backgrounds could be victims of various forms of premarital punishment. Punishing women for premarital sex started with former President Zia-ul-Haq's dictatorship or "Islamization," which incorporated Zina (stoning to death), and Hudood (punishments such as whipping, amputation, honor killing) into Pakistani law. His government dismissed women's rape accusations, instead labelling them as fornicators and sending them to jail. These draconian forms of punishment are slowly dying out, but still linger in the mentalities of fundamentalists, imams, and police officers. Shariah Law can also be blamed for many gender discriminatory policies in Muslim societies, such as the lack of support for freedom of speech, women's rights, and, ultimately, human rights.

Even though I had engaged in sexual relations with almost a dozen people before coming to Canada for college in 2012, it wasn't something I was open about, and looking back I realize my sexuality was still pretty deeply repressed. Due to all these restrictions on us during the horniest years of our lives, in statistically the horniest country (see the above porn stats) in the world, we were forced to get creative during post-pubescent adolescence.

Achieving an orgasm was done in various ways, including but not limited to: having sex in a car with tinted windows and parked in the middle of nowhere; sneaking into my sexual partner's home in the middle of the night; sneaking into my partner's father's office, which happened to have a bedroom (WTF?). All this was done while making sure that no one in the house was on the prowl to notify my single father who would've freaked out (sorry, daddy). Hotel rooms were especially helpful.

Islamabad, where I grew up, only has two hotels, one being the Marriott, at approximately $150-$200 a night—which, for a teenager who had to bear the brunt of the currency conversion, was a ridiculously high sum. But alas, in Pakistan, even paying for a sexual sanctuary isn't enough. The person who booked the room (the guy) would have to go up first, while the other waited about fifteen minutes to ensure no one from the concierge or security caught on to the fact we were about to have wild, rampant pre-marital sex.

And then if you were caught, you had to deal with a shitstorm of rage. My aunt's boyfriend was beaten to a pulp by my grandfather to "protect her honor." And when my own parents found out about my own tryst, they threw a completely irrational and melodramatic fit about how I was destroying my future and forbade me from ever speaking to the guy again (after notifying his parents and my school). 

Attempting to embrace my sexuality through my clothing was impossible too, because I had to wear baggy, unflattering t-shirts that diverted attention away from the shape of my breasts.

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