Every once in a while, something happens to this Caucasian North American somewhat Christian woman that just cannot be explained. It is so outside of my realm of experience that words would fail. As you know, in traditional Islamic countries, there is no separation of church and state. We live with Shari’a law here. But, there is separation of men and women. All through their lives as girls and boys – children go to separate schools. Restaurants have a men’s section and a family section. There are separate waiting rooms in medical clinics (as I noted in a prior post). There is a separate lounge area for women at the ultra modern brand new high tech over-the-top Hamad International airport. The glass is frosted so no one can see inside. The spas and beauty salons are all ‘women only.’ Men not allowed and either solid doors or frosted doors and windows prevent anyone from seeing inside. Our library (along with every other building on campus) has prayer rooms and ablution areas. One for men, one for women. We have male and female cafeterias. (But our classes are mixed.)
Well, one of those ‘female only’ events occurred on campus Wednesday night that was organized by the students association to which all female faculty and mothers were invited. Labelled as a ‘Traditional Wanasa Night,’ formal attire was required, but cameras were forbidden, as were children. I was told by my colleagues who had attended in the past that it wouldn’t matter what I wore, I would be upstaged by our students. And I was. Again, and again and again. I was not allowed to take pictures as the girls were without their abayas, niqabs and shaylas. But there they were in plunging necklines, diamonds and crystals, glittering makeup, tiaras and highly suggestive clothing. The purpose of the event was to attract the eyes of some of the mothers there, who might select you as a possible wife for their son.
I can’t say anymore. I can’t share pictures. I can’t describe what happened. Frankly, I was in culture shock at so many levels, it is impossible to describe. You – yes you who is reading this – can’t even imagine what I saw. I’m still shocked. If I say any more than this – the decency/morality squad – the ones who can fine me, punish me and deport me, will have my figurative neck.