February 5th, 2008 by Shakir Lakhani

About a year ago, I read about a place in Saudi Arabia where there is so much segregation of the sexes that men have never seen the faces of their wives, nor their sisters. This seemed a bit outlandish, so I wrote to a woman’s group in Jordan asking them if this was true. They never replied, so I assume that this kind of thing is not rare in that part of the world.

I thought how would a man identify his wife’s body if the police called him and showed him many dead women who had died in an accident? How would a man know that the woman calling him from across the street is his sister?

Maybe the men and women don’t talk much over there (not a bad idea, I know Pakistan would be a much better place if some politicians and religious leaders kept their mouths shut all the time). But it looks like there are other places where this kind of thing is common. You can imagine my amazement when I read recently that the first president of India (Dr. Rajendra Prasad, a Hindu from Bihar) belonged to a village where men were not allowed to see their wives or talk to them in the daytime. Apparently they didn’t see each other in the night also, since that place is the most backward in India, where even today many villages don’t have electricity.
It seems that the world is full of strange people.