Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East

Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East

Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East

Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East

Synopsis

Over the course of the twentieth century, most Middle East states adopted a shari'a -based system for recognizing marriages. Partly in reaction to these dynamics, new types of marriage that evade the control of the state and religious authorities have emerged. These marriages allow for men and women to engage in sexual relationships, but do not require that they register the marriage with the state, that they live together, or that the man be financially responsible for the wife or household.

In Consuming Desires, Frances Hasso explores the extent to which these new relationship forms are used and to what ends, as well as the legal and cultural responses to such innovations. She outlines what is at stake for the various groups- the state, religious leaders, opposition groups, young people, men and women of different classes and locations, and feminist organizations- in arguments for and against these relationship forms.

Excerpt

In early 2004, in a case that received extensive coverage in the Egyptian media and on Arabic satellite channels, Hind al-Hinnawy, a twenty-six-year-old Egyptian set and costume designer from a well-to-do family in Cairo, secretly married twenty-four-year-old television actor Ahmad al-Fishawy in a ‘urfī, or unregistered “customary,” marriage contract. Unlike most such relationships, however, al-Hinnawy revealed the relationship to her parents because she became pregnant, although she waited until the second trimester so they would be unable to pressure her into having an abortion. the relationship between alHinnawy and al-Fishawy had fallen apart over the pregnancy, and al-Fishawy and his parents, well-known actors themselves, were unsuccessful in their attempts to convince her to have an abortion. Al-Fishawy, who had become famous as the host of a television program “dispensing advice to devout Muslim youth,” which was subsequently canceled, denied that the marriage had occurred or that they had had sex, reportedly telling al-Hinnawy that he “would never marry an unveiled woman.”

After having the child, al-Hinnawy filed a lawsuit against al-Fishawy in Cairo Family Court in December 2004, requesting he be compelled to submit to a dna test in order to validate her daughter’s biological paternity. While uninterested in continuing a relationship or his money, she wanted to provide her daughter with legitimacy and Egyptian citizenship, which require a birth certificate that includes an Egyptian father’s name. Al-Hinnawy reported that in spring 2004, when she informed al-Fishawy of the pregnancy, he “nicely asked for both copies [of the marriage contract] so he could make the marriage official by registering it” but never returned her copy. Al-Hinnawy recognized . . .

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