In a shocking article in Harper’s Magazine Lawrence Osborne tells of a
“Pilgrimage of Sin: Booze, bombs and hookers in Islamic Thailand.”
regales his readers with the seeming contradiction between Malay Islamists in
southern Thailand and the brothel culture they patronize. He meets five Muslim
Malay men from Malaysia who have crossed into Thailand to visit the Pink Lady
brothel. The five come from a southern state where Shari’a law has been enacted,
and where the government considers Valentine’s Day “synonymous with vice
The author interviews local Malay men (southern Thailand has
a large Malay minority), and finds that while they support the Islamist
insurgents who murder Buddhist priests and kill policemen, they also love the
female Buddhist prostitutes at the Pink Lady.
The relationship between
Islamism, sex trafficking and prostitution is more common than one thinks. The
9/11 hijackers, Maj. Nidal Hasan of the Fort Hood massacre and radical preachers
Abu Hamza al-Masri and Anwar Awlaki were all frequenters of strip clubs or
A RECENT article in The New York Times
by Aubrey Belford
reveals the latest twist in “Indonesia’s culture war between peddlers of
titillation and Islamist conservatives.”
Ody Mulya Hidayat, an Indonesian
Muslim filmmaker, has found a new secret to success – cast Japanese porn stars,
with their clothes on, in his B movies like Evil Nurse 2. Aubrey writes that
“many in Muslimmajority Indonesia will pay to see foreign porn stars perform –
clothed – in local films. Just don’t expect Indonesians to own up to
Why the obsession with Japanese porn stars in the “conservative”
society of Indonesia, where porn is illegal and volunteer religious police
routinely harass women for not dressing in appropriate Islamic attire? Perhaps
the answer can be found in the deserts of Sinai.
A December 13 report
entitled “Hostages, Torture and Rape in the Sinai Desert” by Physicians for
Human Rights in Israel revealed that African migrants were branded, whipped and
routinely raped by the Sinai Beduin. One young woman from Ethiopia related that
the Beduin “would take me into the front of the pickup and do whatever they
liked with me. The distress of this was too much for my husband.”
of the women interviewed by PHR claim to have been raped, and it is thought that
many more are raped but, due to the shame, do not tell interviewers about
But when you go to the Sinai, the Beduin tell you they are a
conservative Muslim society. They circumcise young girls, and their women are
swaddled in embroidered black hijabs. So why does this “conservative” society
engage in sex crimes against migrants? The same migrants in Israel are not raped
by their employers, at least not that we know of.
THE ANSWER may lie in
Iraq and the Gulf states. A recent article by the BBC related that “Ugandan
women were trafficked into domestic slavery in Iraq.”
The report found
146 women who signed up to work in the country. Upon arrival they found they had
been sold to Iraqis for $3,500. One woman recalled that she had been forced to
work from 5 a.m. to midnight. She was also raped. Other women that Anna Cavel
interviewed were raped as well. But Iraq is a conservative society. The women
wear the black abaya, and since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the country has
become more religious.
The story continues in the Gulf states. Many of
the female domestic slaves (“servants”) imported from Sri Lanka, Nepal,
Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere are subjected to sexual abuse.
According to the Nepalese embassy in Saudi Arabia, “A majority of these women
are raped, sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and have endured inhumane
Lawrence Osborne, in his article on Thailand, related that
some of the brothels in Bangkok were frequented primarily by Saudis and Gulf
Arabs – people whose own countries either banned women from driving or have
imprisoned Europeans “caught” making out on beaches.
All the stories
related here have one thing in common.
A conservative culture claims
moral superiority, but subjects members of other cultures to dehumanizing
treatment and sexual abuse. It doesn’t seem like it can all coexist. But a very
similar society existed in the American Old South.
The Old South was a
conservative place, with a culture in some ways similar to what is found in the
Islamic world. It was a society of large families that guarded the honor of
their women. It imported servants and slaves, and took pride in its
Historian David Hacket Fischer relates in his excellent book
Albion’s Seed that this patriarchal society “condemned as unnatural and even
dangerous to society” single men and women, and that arranged marriage was
The Byrd household of 18th-century Virginia may have been
typical. The slaves were beaten and burned with hot irons. “Women were held to
the strictest standards of sexual virtue. Men were encouraged by the customs of
the country to maintain a predatory attitude toward women.”
II kept a diary of his sexual exploits.
In a month-long debauch he
“played with Mrs. Chiswell and kissed her on the bed... I neglected my
prayers... we saw Molly King, a pretty black girl...[and] Jenny, an
Indian girl, had got drunk and made us good sport... at night I asked a negro
girl to kiss me... came to Mrs. Johnson and rogered her twice...I went
to Mrs. Fitzherbert’s... walked away and picked up a girl whom I carried to the
bagnio [bathroom] and rogered her twice very well... endeavored to pick up a
whore but could not.”
Byrd would not be out of place in today’s Islamist
states, where conservative laws, slavery, rape and sexual avarice can all be
found in the same place.
Byrd’s diary reveals both his religious feelings
– he complains often of “neglecting” his prayers – and his outright disregard
for sexual mores. The “negro” and “Indian” women he encountered, the prostitutes
and domestic white servants, were all fair game because of his sense of
Is there any reason to think that the Beduin of Sinai or the
Malays of southern Thailand feel differently?
The writer has a PhD from Hebrew
University, and is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.