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Comment / Muna Khan: The curious case of the woman who thinks sex slaves will stop Arab men from committing adultery

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Salwa Al Mutairi is very concerned about male adulterers.

And why should she not be given the scandals to have rocked the western world in the last few months—be it the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn charged with sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper in New York City or California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who admitted to infidelity and having a child out of wedlock as the reason behind the dissolution of his marriage.

This is but just two examples of high profile marriages going bust which even prompted the bastion of weekly newsmagazines Time to ask why men cheat.

While Ms. Al-Mutairi’s worries may not concern matters on Western shores—she is a Kuwaiti activist—she does offer a novel proposition to curb the cheating of men: legalize sex slavery.

No, this is not a case of something being lost in translation, nor am I making it up.

The one-time candidate for Kuwaiti Parliament and TV show host said that a legislative act sanctioning enslaved female concubines would “protect” men from committing adultery or corruption.

I thought concubine was struck out of the dictionary because Oxford had to make room for couch surfer, la-la land and muffin top to name but a few—I am also not making this up—but it’s alive and well.

But there’s nothing funny about slavery.

And I’m not the only one who thinks that Ms. Al Mutairi does no great service to her gender with such preposterous views. Twitterverse was outraged, disgusted and tweeple keen to point out that she does not represent all Kuwaitis.

Ms. Al Mutairi would have us believe that men’s desires need to be constantly catered to—so much for women’s liberation.

She also said—and rather seriously too in her online video broadcast which was reported by Kuwait Times on Sunday—that she’d been informed that “affluent Muslim men who fear being seduced or tempted into immoral behavior by the beauty of their female servants, or even of those servants ‘casting spells’ on them, would be better to purchase women from an ‘enslaved maid’ agency for sexual purposes.”

Since there are agencies to help us find domestic staff, the “activist” wants to see something similar for concubines. Hey, maybe we can throw in summer specials: Buy one-get-one-free. Maybe GroupOn wants to get in on this.

Ms. Al Mutairi’s genius knows no bounds because she suggests that maids/concubines could be “brought as prisoners of war in war-stricken nations like Chechnya to be sold on later to devout merchants.”

I’m pretty certain the Chechens have a thing or two to say about this offer. “Errr, no thanks” pretty much should sum it up.

Or, as Mona Eltahawy tweeted: “Wonder how Salwa Al Mutairi would’ve felt if during occupation by Iraqi forces, she was sold as “war booty” as she advocates 4 [sic] Chechen women.”

The icing on the cake is when Ms. Al Mutairi says that the idea doesn’t go against the tenets of religion.

Perhaps she skipped class the day they taught the story about how the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) freed slaves.

Or laid down pretty strict rules against adultery, like don’t do it.


It’s easy to dismiss Ms. Al Mutairi as a “joke”—I’m assured that many Kuwaitis see her as an embarrassment, as “our own Ann Coulter” tweeted one man—but it’s still baffling that she would espouse such notions in this day and age.

How does sex slavery prevent adultery?

(I thought wanting to stay in a monogamous marriage prevented adultery.)

How can there be anything remotely dignified about the word slavery in this day and age?

The only connection one can even make with slavery is rape—and there’s plenty of evidence to attest that girls and women are being sold into slavery and forced into all sorts of professions against their will. For Ms. Al Mutairi to even suggest that owning a concubine would prevent a man from becoming corrupt is downright irresponsible and simply shameful.

It is almost as idiotic as the Malaysian venture, “The Obedient Wife Club,” launched on June 3 to teach women how to care for their husbands better so they don’t—you guessed it—stray. Apparently these women are concerned by the increase in divorces in Malaysia and feel that by asking women to be more obedient to their husband, they will have fewer problems in society.

Why do women like Ms. Al Mutairi and the Malaysians behind the wives club feel the onus of adultery or men behaving badly lies with women? Why is there no responsibility placed on the man? Why are disobedient husbands like Mr. Strauss-Kahn or the Egyptian banker who is alleged to have assaulted a maid in New York City too last month get treated with a “wink wink, nudge nudge” locker room like applause from other men?

It’ll be nice for men to step forward and rubbish such views in a public domain. Until then I’m happy to keep poking fun at the likes of men and women who want us to return to antiquated and warped values packaged in the name of religion.

Feel free to join in the fray.

(Muna Khan, Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: [email protected])