Iraq Legalizes Prostitution [or Religious Escort Services, Anyway]

‘Pleasure marriages’ regain popularity in Iraq,” by Rick Jervis, USA Today, 4 May 2005, (from Democratic Underground).

When the future Islamic Republic has more personal liberty than the United States… . *insert snappy line*

In the days when it could land him in jail, Rahim Al-Zaidi would whisper details of his muta’a only to his closest confidants and the occasional cousin. Never his wife.

Al-Zaidi hopes to soon finalize his third muta’a, or “pleasure marriage,” with a green-eyed neighbor. This time, he talks about it openly and with obvious relish. Even so, he says, he probably still won’t tell his wife.

Shia allows for “temporary marriages,” a form of religiously regulated prostitution. They are also well-known in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where they are popular with theology students.

Defining it as something similar to an escort service, Ayatollah Sistani writes

Most Shiite scholars today consider it halal, or religiously legal. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority in Shiite Islam, sets conditions and obligations for muta’a on his Web site. (“A woman with whom temporary marriage is contracted is not entitled to share the conjugal bed of her husband and does not inherit from him …”)

Of course, we wouldn’t have a liberal society if a coalition of fundementalists and feminists didn’t oppose it.

Pleasure marriages were outlawed under Saddam Hussein but have begun to flourish again. The contracts, lasting anywhere from one hour to 10 years, generally stipulate that the man will pay the woman in exchange for sexual intimacy. Now some Iraqi clerics and women’s rights activists are complaining that the contracts have become less a mechanism for taking care of widows than an outlet for male sexual desires.

Sunni scholars fear that giving official sanction to pleasure marriages — many of which are only verbal agreements between the couple — are little more than legalized prostitution that could lead to a collapse of moral values, especially among young people.

Women’s rights activists are concerned. Salama Al-Khafaji, a Shiite lawmaker who supports the concept of sharia law but advocates for women’s rights, calls the re-emergence of muta’a an “unhealthy phenomenon.”

Maybe this will reverse the flow of prostitution from Iraq to Syria? Perhaps these women (sfw)are available?

Update: Chris Bowers at MyDD wonders if this is a “wedge issue.” Suuuuure…..

2 thoughts on “Iraq Legalizes Prostitution [or Religious Escort Services, Anyway]”

  1. Indeed Check, reading through the disclaimer on your site

    “First, you cannot “expect” anything more than to pay the lady for her time with you, either at a place mutually agreeable (“outcall”) or at her place (“incall”). Anything else and you may be participating in an illegal activity. Prostitution is illegal throughout the US, with the exception of the legalized brothels in Nevada. Both client and escort are breaking the law.”

    reveals that the United States, a “liberal” democracy, has much less liberal prostitution laws than the “illiberally” democratic Iraq.

    Likewise Thailand, known for her bargirls, [1] has a government bureau dedicated to censoring web pornography [2].

    But then, as Dean Barrett has noted, the land of smiles has one of the highest murder rates in the world. What ironies has life…


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