Policing Egyptian Women
Sex, Law, and Medicine in Khedival Egypt
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Syracuse University Press
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List of Illustrations
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This book began with what seemed to be a jewel from a treasure box: a copy of a police record from nineteenth-century Egypt, which my advisor, Khaled Fahmy, had us read in my first year in the graduate program at New York University. It was a story of a young girl who was found in a brothel and insisted that she was still a virgin. This case opened new questions that lured me...
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In the winter of 1878, a man brought his daughter, Siddiqa, to Cairo’s police headquarters aft er finding her away from home in the company of a prostitute. At first, Siddiqa told her father that she was still a virgin. He asked female neighbors to examine her, and they confirmed that her hymen was intact. He chose not to trust them, however, took his daughter to the police station, and...
1. Egyptian Legal Reform
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On 27 November 1865, ‘Abdallah ‘Ali Sulayman from Abu al-Waqf village in al-Minya Province in Upper Egypt approached the village qadi and informed him that his maternal cousin Sariyya had been murdered by her maternal and paternal uncles for alleged involvement in extramarital sex. The qadi hastened to contact the district police with only his word and reputation to support...
2. Medicine, Law, and the Female Body
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A Jewish woman named Rahil Fisha was convicted for causing the death of her neighbor, Sarah Cohen, at childbirth in Alexandria. When labor was near and Sarah was agonizing in pain, her sister-in-law asked for Rahil’s help. Rahil advised her to apply some alcohol on the laboring woman’s thighs to intensify her contractions and facilitate birth. The alcohol caught fire and...
3. Female Slaves, Manumission, and Abolition
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On a summer day in 1877, Saluma, a Sudanese freed slave, knocked on a stranger’s door in the Palestinian village of Tira in the Ottoman Nablus Province. Saluma had been kidnapped from Cairo about five months earlier. She was smuggled through al-‘Arish to Tira, along with five other women, to be sold there as slaves. Her kidnappers had sent her to get some bread from a...
4. Prostitutes and Other Women of Ill Repute
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Zanuba, a qadi’s wife by second marriage, left her husband and started working as a prostitute for her cousin Nafisa, who owned a brothel in Bulaq, one of Cairo’s poor neighborhoods. Her husband and father informed the police and asked that she be punished. Along with Nafisa and Zanuba, the police recommended convicting Zanuba’s first husband for encouraging her to...
5. Virginity, Honor, and Premarital Defloration
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On the night of 24 June 1863, Alexandrian merchant Muhammad Harun claimed that his newly wedded wife, Asma, was not a virgin on their wedding night. He also concealed the “evidence” of her virginity—her blood-stained garments. Her mother and maternal uncle hastened to contact authorities. A hakima who examined her at the police station confirmed that Asma had been...
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Patriarchal control of women, communal and familial control of women’s conduct took a different shape in 1882, on the eve of British occupation of Egypt, than they had but half a century earlier. New actors were now policing the conduct of women and girls. Policemen arrested runaway daughters and slaves— women who could not satisfactory explain their presence outdoors in...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 3 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2011