The high physical and financial cost of maintaining proper Sharia appearances. “Why one Muslim girl became a born-again virgin for her wedding night,” by Diana Appleyard for the Daily Mail (thanks to all who sent this in):
When Aisha Salim marries her fiance in Pakistan next March, it will be the wedding of her dreams.
Wearing a veil and gown, she will be every inch the fairytale virgin bride and as befits her strict Muslim religion, after the ceremony, she will hand her blooded wedding-night sheets to her in-laws as proof of her virginity.
But far from being the traditional untouched bride that many Muslim families demand, she is a modern-day university graduate who has smoked, drunk, made love to – and even lived with – a previous English boyfriend.
To disguise the fact that she has had sex, she has paid for painful surgery to “restore” her virginity.
It is a drastic and costly measure but as she takes her husband’s hand in marriage, she knows it is one which may – quite literally – save her life.
The horror and outrage that would ensue if it was discovered she had already slept with a man would be so damning that her own strictly religious relatives might kill her rather than face public shame.
“My virginity was restored in a delicate operation just last week, and I honestly view it as life-saving surgery,” says Aisha.
“If my husband cannot prove to his family that I am a virgin, I would be hounded, ostracised and sent home in disgrace. My father, who is a devout Muslim, would regard it as the ultimate shame.
“The entire family could be cast out from the friends and society they hold dear, and I honestly believe that one of my fanatically religious cousins or uncles might kill me in revenge, to purge them of my sins. Incredible as it may seem, honour killings are still accepted within our religion.
“Ever since my family arranged this marriage for me, I’ve been terrified that, on my wedding night, my secret would come out. It has only been since my surgery last week that I’ve actually been able to sleep properly. Now, I can look forward to my marriage.”
Aisha is far from alone in seeking such drastic – and almost barbaric – surgery.
“I feel very sad that women like me feel so torn between our two cultures. Our religion is so rigid – yet I was brought up among Western friends who thought nothing of sleeping with their boyfriends.
“It makes life so confusing and I feel so deeply for all the many Muslim girls in Britain who are caught in the same dilemma.
“I was lucky, I suppose, in that I could afford to repair my ‘mistake’ so no one would know.
“But it scares me to think what will happen to Muslim girls who do not have this option and are seen to be ‘shaming’ their families. They are the ones whose lives will be at risk.”