Laughter a Threat to Chastity? Yes, Declares Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister


ANKARA, Turkey -- Chastity has long been a source of contention and in fact has often been used as a justification for the domination of women throughout the centuries in various parts of the world. It is another means by which some men seek to control women’s sexuality and reproductive freedom.

Though many people think of the issue of controlling women and forcibly “preserving” their chastity as a phenomenon unique to countries with emerging economies where young girls are routinely subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FMG), these practices have been imported to the U.K. and other E.U. nations with high immigrant populations.

However, the West is not without guilt as similar overt restrictions and unsanitary practices were routinely implemented in Europe during the 16th century when men made their wives wear ‘chastity’ belts to prevent sexual intercourse during their long absences at sea or war.

The history of women being controlled subtly and overtly is a never ending battle; however, this week the war for equality reached ridiculous lows when Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arınç, stated in a speech that “among other activities that women laughing in public somehow contributed to the moral turpitude of the nation.

During his 28 July 2014 speech which was given on Eid al-Fitr, the official end of the month-long Islamic celebration of Ramadan, “Arınç described his ideal of the chaste man or woman, saying they should both have a sense of shame and honor.” (Source: Hurriyet Daily News)

This atavistic attitude at once casts sexuality as “unclean,” but also blames women for defiling themselves, a specious argument often used to justify rape, while also claiming that these 'loose' women constantly lure otherwise chaste men into debauchery and sin. In his speech, Arınç outlined his ideas of morality saying:

“Chastity is so important. It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men. [She] will have chasteness. Man will have it, too. He will not be a womanizer. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children. [The woman] will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness.”

These ideas are not Arınç’s alone, but are an outgrowth of the conservative tenor of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of which he is a prominent member. The AKP has been in power since 2002, and in the intervening years has shepherded over a subtle but systematic erosion of women’s rights.

Unbeknownst to many in the West, “Turkey had a thriving women’s rights movement in the 1980s and 90s, but has recently experienced a back slide in progress. Violence against women has doubled over the past few years, only one third of women are employed, and the country rates almost dead last in gender equality in education, health, politics, and the economy.” (Source: Huffington Post)

Women’s rights are being eroded on all fronts from wage equality and reproductive rights in the United States, to FMG in Sub-Saharan Africa, to the 'One Child Policy' in China, to chastity requirements in restrictive Middle East nations. Though many in the West and East have greeted Arınç’s comments with derision and mockery, this is no laughing matter.

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Becker Sentenced to Life for Cutting off Penis


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:24 PM EDT, 27 June 2014

B is for Blood, Photo by KlmLOS ANGELES, California -- In August 2011, Catherine Kieu Becker, a Vietnam-born woman also known as Que Anh Tran, brutally attacked her husband severing his penis. At that time they resided in Grove Garden, California. Today, nearly three years later, Becker has been convicted and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after seven years.

Now 50, the infamous ex-wife has supplanted Lorena Bobbitt as the new face of women who castrate their husbands. Unlike, Lorena, Catherine Kieu, had not been abused, but instead appears to have been driven to violence by jealousy.

Kieu and her then husband married in December 2009, but in May 2011 he filed for divorce, which was granted in August 2011, according to Orange County court records. Despite the fact that she and her ex-husband had no children, it seemed that Kieu was not ready to relinquish the relationship.

According to other reports, shortly before the incident, the couple argued over a friend staying with them. Apparently, her husband thought little about the incident, or at least he didn't fear for his safety because he and Kieu enjoyed a dinner together.

It was during this meal that according to prosecutors, "Kieu laced her husband's dinner with the sleep medication Ambien, and once he fell asleep, Kieu tied his legs and arms to the four corners of the bed. She waited until he awoke before pulling down his pants  and cutting off his penis with a knife."

Once again the similarities between Bobbitt and Kieu are striking, but in the case of Lorena, she drove off in her car and threw her husband's severed penis out the window. She later led the authorities to the general area where she had thrown out 'his member,' whereupon it was located and later surgically reattached.

In Kieu's case, she seemed intent on her husband never being able to perform as a man again, as she threw his severed penis into the garbage disposal, turned it on and mangled it. After this vicious assault, Kieu called 911 to say that her husband was bleeding and required attention. Upon the paramedic's arrival they saw the severity of his injuries and immediately took him to the hospital for emergency surgery.

The victim is a battered man, and if not for his physical castration people may have scoffed at his predicament. But, the abuse perpetrated against him by Kieu cannot be healed with psychotherapy. Her ex-husband, 60, according to the prosecutor's office, described the trauma in an impact statement during Friday's sentencing.

'The convicted (person) viciously deprived me of part of my life and identity," the ex-husband told the court. "Then, as is routine in cases of violence that involve something sexual, the victim must endure, at the hands of the defense, a second attack. This was a cruel and calculated violation of a person's body and mind. I now struggle with what is before me. She has torn off my identity as a man. She has caused doubt in my belief in good. She has betrayed my trust in people." Source: CNN

Kieu's defense team's strategy seemed to rely on the success of the outcome of Bobbitt's acquittal on the grounds of temporary insanity. However, despite their claim that Kieu suffered from mental health issues, including depression, it was a stretch to claim that she was a victim of the battered woman's syndrome or acted in defense of her life.

Her claims do an injustice to the many women in this country and around the world who are abused physically and mentally by their partners until they break and either harm themselves or their victimizer. Fortunately, for women's rights, the jury didn't buy into Kieu's defense and today, she was sentenced to life in accordance with the April 29th jury verdict of one felony count of torture, one felony count of aggravated mayhem, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a knife.

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With Extreme Prejudice | Castration


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 21:03 PM EDT, 13 July 2011

Bloody KnifeCALIFORNIA - Catherine Kieu Becker who lives in Grove Garden, California, called 911 Emergency Services after she cut off her husband's penis and mangled it in a garbage disposal.  This is not the first time that an American wife has cut off her husband's penis.

In 1984, Lorena Bobbitt severed the penis of her husband, John Bobbitt after he returned home and raped her following a night of heavy drinking.  Unlike Catherine who mangled her husband's penis in the garbage disposal, Lorena left with the severed penis, drove a short while, then rolled down the car window and threw the penis into a field.

She subsequently stopped and called 911 and after an exhaustive search, the penis was located, packed in ice, and taken to the hospital where John Bobbitt was being treated. The penis was re-attached by Drs. James T. Sehn and David Berman during a nine-and-a-half-hour operation.[Wikipedia]

At this time, the reason for Catherine's assault are unknown. By contrast, Lorena Bobbitt revealed during her trial the volatile nature of her relationship with her husband. She told a packed courtroom that her husband sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her during their marriage and that John Bobbitt flaunted his infidelities, and had forced her to have an abortion. [Wikipedia]

What makes the cases against Catherine and Lorena so sensational is the visceral response men have to this crime.  Their penises are a potent symbol of their manhood, are the instrument by which they can procreate or rape, and one of the most sensitive areas of their bodies.  Because the perpetrators of these crimes are women, who in most societies are by and large viewed as passive victims, the only explanation offered is that they must be 'crazy.'

When a woman castrates a man, the action is tantamount to an insurrection by the 'weaker sex' and in any other country but America the offender would have been summarily executed. This was the case with a woman, known as Zarmina, executed by the Taliban at the Ghazi Sports Stadium, Kabul, November 16, 1999. She was a mother of seven children who killed her husband after he severely beat her.

Castration has been used as an instrument of war for thousands of years.  After battles in some cases, winners castrated their captives or the corpses of the defeated to symbolize their victory and "seize" their power.  The amount of media attention devoted to the rare incidents of male castration by females is inordinate compared to the global scourge of female genital mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) also known as Female Genital Cutting (FCC) or Female Circumcision has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as all non-surgically necessary procedures performed on girls and women to mutilate their genitalia.  The damage wrought to these women's vaginas is heinous and equivalent to male castration but media attention to these crimes pale by comparison.

Although surgeons can reattach a man's penis there may be reduced performance, a female victim of FMG suffers life-long health issues.  These include urinary and reproductive tract infections, caused by obstructed flow of urine and menstrual blood, various forms of scarring and infertility.

This is not an argument in support of what Catherine Kieu Becker and Lorena Bobbitt did to their husbands, but rather an indictment of societies that continue to support misogynistic practices that go unnoticed and unpunished around the world and in many North African countries explicitly required to preserve the 'sanctity' of a woman's chastity.

In the American justice system we are judged by a jury of our peers.  In 1984 this judicial system declared Lorena not guilty due to insanity.  The verdict is still out on Catherine Kieu Becker  but it will be interesting to follow her case.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias