Rwala Bedouin: 3,3,3,4,-,4-;-,2

BEDOUIN(Northern Libya, Egypt, Arabia, Israel)  



IndexMiddle East Supra-Saharan Africa LibyaBedouin


Bedouin (Lybia)


Peters (1990:p249-50)[1] states sexual education is a problematic item in parent-child socialisation: “The subject of marriage between proximate generations is disallowed. Between father and son, avoidance of anything relating to sex or marriage is strictly observed. Only one male, the mother’s brother, is free to discuss these matters and present a case for marriage to a father on behalf of a son. Men also have access to their fathers through their sisters, who are free to discuss any matters relating to male-female relationships with their mothers, and the latter, in turn, press fathers to marry off their sons”. Boys and girls are parted at puberty, though not completely secluded. Girls grow up avoidance of becoming “bad girls”, as defined by the concept of hasham, or modesty/chastity[2].



Bedouin (Arabia, Negev, Sinai)


“Good women deny interest in sexual matters and deny their own sexuality”, a credo taught to girls as an important item of their socialisation (Abu-Lughod, 1986b:p153)[3]. Among North-Arabic Bedouins, proof of a girl’s premarital sexual experience would mean her death (Jaussen and Savignac, 1920[4]:p20; Reintjens, 1975[5]:p100-3).


“Religious law prescribes not under fourteen years for a marriage of girls, but bedouin tribes have no fixed age, being guided more by the development of the girl in question with the result that brides are sometimes as young as twelve years. It is rarely that the bridegroom is younger than fifteen years. […] Old men, particularly men who are considered to be rich, contract many marriages with girls who are little more than children”[6].




Bedouin (Israel)


“The age of RFGS [Ritual female genital surgery] is 12 to 17 years, after menarche but before marriage”[7]. Cwikel et al. (2003:p424)[8]: “Women are taught from childhood that their sexuality is the inalienable and permanent property of the Hamula (extended family) rather than their own (Al-Krenawi & Graham, 1998)”.




Further reading:


  • Al-Krenawi, A. & Wiesel-Lev, R. (1999) Attitudes toward and Perceived Psychosocial Impact of Female Circumcision as Practiced among the Bedouin-Arabs of the Negev, Family Process 38,4:431-43






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

Last revised: Oct. 2004








[1] Peters, E. L. (1990) The Bedouin of Cyrenaica. Cambridge; New York: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge

[2] Abu-Lughod, L. (1986a) Modest Women, Subversive Poems: The Politics of Love in an Egyptian Bedouin Society, Bulletin (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies) 13,2:159-168, at p160

[3] Abu-Lughod, L. (1986b) Veiled Sentiments. Berkeley & Los Angelos: University of California Press

[4] Jaussen, A. & Savignac, A. (1920) Coutumes des Fuqara. Paris

[5] Reintjens, H. (1975) Die Soziale Stellung der Frau bei den Nordarabischen Beduinen [etc.]. Diss., Bonn

[6] Aref el-Aref/ Tilley, H. W. (1944/1974) Bedouin Love, Law, and Legend: Dealing Exclusively with the Badu of Beersheba. Transl. From Arab original. Jerusalem, Cosmos Publ. House / New York: AMS Press

[7] Asali, Abed, Khamaysi, Naif, Aburabia, Yunis, Letzer, Simha, et al. (1995) Ritual female genital surgery among Bedouin in Israel, Archives of Sexual Behavior 24,5:571 et seq.

[8]Cwikel, Julie; Rachel Lev-Wiesel, and Alean Al-Krenawi (2003) The Physical and Psychosocial Health of Bedouin Arab Women of the Negev Area of Israel: The Impact of High Fertility and Pervasive Domestic Violence, Violence Against Women 9:240-57 []