ARABS(®Arab Americans)


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Jacobus X (1893 [1898, II:p94])[1] states: “Among the Arabs marriage usually takes place before the period of the menses. If the bride is aged from nine to ten years, she is deflowered by a matron, if she has attained the age of thirteen years, the operation is performed by the husband. The same customs prevail among the schismatic Copts”. However, “[l]ittle girls are sometimes deflowered very early. Madame X…informed me that she had seen, during the feast of the Ramadan, a little girl of six years of age and a boy of five acting coition in the street; they were merely imitating what they had witnessed. Sometimes little Arabs of from three to four years old are summoned by a little girl of their own age to coition in the open street. This seems incredible”. As reviewed by Breiner (undated)[2],


“The family in general, including the parents, will masturbate the infant boy to “increase its size and strengthen it”. This can go on for hours (Edwardes, Masters, 1963). In boyhood there is mutual masturbation, fellatio, and anal intercourse. […] Little girls are taught to stay in a very protected, segregated environment. They often become child brides before puberty (Omran, 1976; Standley, 1981)[[3]]. The boy is taught three things about sex: 1) that it is sinful, 2) that it is exciting and pleasurable, and 3) that it is also important for him to perform well sexually. Sex is a taboo subject, though it is central in the thinking and the general conversation in the male Arab world”.


Antoun[4] and others have written extensively on how the legitimate conjugal relationship is guarded in Middle Eastern villages through child betrothal, virginity tests, arranged marriages and elopement involving cases of honour. The girl finds herself under a rather strict moral guidance (Granqvist, 1947:p159ff)[5]. A wedding may be her only day out of the home. On the other hand, “[o]rdinary sexual matters are discussed before small children with a frankness and simplicity which modern educationists might approve, but which an English person may find at times embarrassing” (Dickson, 1949:p58)[6].




Further reading:


  • Dostal, Walter (1958) Zum Problem der MŠdchenbeschneidung in Arabien, Wiener Volkerkundliche Mitteilungen 1:83-9







Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004




[1] Jacobus X ([1893] 1898) L’Amour aux Colonies. Paris : I. Liseux. 3 vols. Second and enlarged english ed., Untrodden Fields of Anthropology (etc.). Paris: Librairie de Medecine, Folklore et Anthropologie. 2 vols.

[2] Online paper by Breiner, S. J. (Jan. 2002) Some Interesting Child Rearing Practices In The Arab World []

[3] Orman, A.R. & Standley, C.C. (1976) Family Formation Patterns and Health. World Health Organization; Orman, A.R. & Standley, C.C. (1981) Family Formation Patterns and Health, Further Studies. World Health Organization

[4] Antoun, R. T. (1968) On the Modesty of Women in Arab Muslim Villages, Am Anthropol 70:671-97

[5] Granqvist, H. (1947) Birth and Childhood among the Arabs. Helsingfors: Soderström & Co.

[6] Dickson, H. R. P. (1949) The Arab of the Desert. London: George Allen & Unwin