Law forbids unmarried girls to unveil before any man, and married women may unveil only before their husbands, relatives, and persons considered by their husbands to be trustworthy. This allows men to brag about their women to strangers without fear of contradiction. The advantages that accrue to women are few.
A famous story tells of a man who married a woman whose face he had not been permitted to see until after they were wed. As it turned out she was very, very ugly. When she asked her husband who among family and friends would have the privilege of Namaharem (seeing her unveiled), the husband replied "Anyone but me, woman."
There is the equally famous story of Queen Nyssia, the wife of King Candaules. She was said to be the most beautiful creature ever to inhabit the earth. But because the rules concerning veils are even more severe for queens and such, the King was unable to enjoy the envy of others. It drove him mad, and from that point a very tragic tale unfolds, the advantage going to Queen Nyssia. The full details of this story can be found in a certain book by Theophile Gautier, though it may be difficult to find a copy that has not been badly abused.
Attempts by women to overthrow law and custom have generally failed, though there remains hope that in this modern era television might accomplish what courage and good sense could not. There are some early indications of this in the viewing habits of the Bedou. Charlie's Angels is in re-run, and Baywatch currently tops the charts as the most watched program since the first portable television set found its way into the desert on the back of a donkey twenty-five years ago.
Title | Contents | Index | Author
Bedou || The Confusion of Time | Oasis | Market at Basha | Veils