The Obedient Wives Club: for better or for worse
A club that teaches brides how to keep their husbands happy in bed has sparked outrage in Malaysia by claiming that women should take the blame for domestic violence and spousal infidelity, reports Liz Gooch.
THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN POST MAGAZINE ON JUNE 26, 2011.
With tiaras perched atop headscarves, 10 young brides are seated beside their grooms at a long table adorned with yellow and white flowers. The young couples were all married recently and are in this function room, at a golf club on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to celebrate their nuptials.
However, that is not the only reason they have come here this morning – the young women are dedicating themselves to becoming not just wives, but good wives. And the key to becoming a good wife, according to those who have organised the event, is simple: obey your husband.
To be precise, have dinner waiting for him when he gets home; make sure the children are tucked up in bed; dress in sexy clothes; smell nice; and be ready to meet his every sexual need.
‘The wife should entertain the husband more than the first-class prostitute,’ says Fauziah Ariffin, the president of the Malaysian branch of the Obedient Wives Club, a group that has stoked controversy by blaming women for domestic violence, divorce and pushing their husbands into the arms of prostitutes. Organisers claim that if wives would only be more sexually obliging, the world would be free of ‘social ills’.
Established by a Malaysian company that has links to a banned Islamic sect and runs a group that promotes polygamy, the club invited the 10 young couples as special guests to its launch earlier this month.
The club has been met with widespread condemnation in Malaysia, angering women’s groups, who say the club doesn’t reflect Islamic values. The backlash has spread among the public, with many letters in mainstream newspapers slamming the group and thousands of people signing up to an online campaign against the club.
The club plans to teach wives about men’s sexual needs and counsel couples on how to maintain a good marriage. While its ideals may hark back to the concept of love, honour and obey, Rohaya considers the club’s focus on sex to be groundbreaking, because, she says, sex is still considered a taboo topic in many Asian societies.
‘Good women are perceived as prim and proper – a good cook, a good mother, but not good in bed. We want to change all that and say she has also got to be good in bed.’
Global Ikhwan, the company behind the Obedient Wives Club, has a range of businesses in Malaysia and overseas, including food-processing factories, supermarkets and pharmacies. It hit the headlines in 2009, when it launched a club to promote polygamy. In Malaysia, a Muslim man may legally marry up to four wives, as long as he obtains permission from a sharia court.
One of the numerous women’s rights organisations to have expressed disgust at the club’s philosophy is Sisters in Islam, a Muslim advocacy group based in Kuala Lumpur. Ratna Osman, the group’s acting executive director, says the club is ‘yet another manifestation of the persistent women-blaming that afflicts almost every discussion of social issues, such as divorce and sexual assault’. She rejects the view that women are to blame for domestic violence and for causing men to visit prostitutes.
Malaysia bans Obedient Wives Club sex manual
The Malaysian government is to ban a sex manual written by the head of an Islamic sect that teaches women to “be submissive and keep their spouses happy in the bedroom”, for fear it could cause religious confusion.
In the 115-page book – entitled Islamic Sex – the founder of the Obedient Wives Club outlines her experiences of, and opinions on, marriage. It has passages on how couples should physically and spiritually approach sex, and claims that most women only satisfy 10% of their husbands’ sexual needs.
Club leaders, who argue that a wife should serve as a “good sex worker” and a “whore” to her husband, showed the book to journalists last month in an effort to dispel what they called misconceptions that it was obscene and demeaning to women.
They said the book, which contains no explicit photographs, was intended to be a spiritual guide read exclusively by club members to help them better understand sex.
A spokesman for the home ministry said the government’s Islamic affairs department had studied the manual and recommended a ban on the grounds that it may confuse Malaysian Muslims about what constitutes acceptable religious teaching.
People caught in possession of it could be fined up to 5,000 ringgit (£995), the spokesman said, and anyone who makes copies for sale could be imprisoned for three years and fined 20,000 ringgit.
Representatives of the club did not respond to calls made to them on Thursday. The club is believed to have at least 800 members in Malaysia and has branches in Indonesia, Singapore, Jordan and Britain. Many members are in polygamous marriages, insisting the practice helps husbands to avoid committing adultery.
The club’s international vice-president, Rohaya Mohamad, explained the club’s provocative pronouncements in an interview with a Malaysian paper earlier this year. “Eve was created because Adam had needs,” she told the Star. “Men have [sexual] needs which they can’t control. And if the needs are not fulfilled, men will find another woman. God created them like that.”
Tuesday June 7, 2011
Perak mufti supports Obedient Wives Club
IPOH: Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has given his backing to the Obedient Wives Club, which offers “sex lessons” to help women keep their husbands.
Harussani, who recently banned the poco poco dance in Perak, said women needed to be reminded of their roles and responsibilities to their husbands.
“The younger generation is too absorbed in cultures that are not their own. Wives must be very obedient to their husbands.
“However, in Islam, the wife can go against her husband if what he does is not according to the religion,” he said, calling for more such clubs to be set up throughout the country as a way to counter social ills.
Back in 2011, the Obedient Wives’ Club made headlines with its statement that it could cure social ills such as prostitution and divorce by teaching women to be submissive and keep their men happy in the bedroom.
‘Obedient Wives’ Club: Malaysia Group Says Good Sex Is A Duty
RAWANG, Malaysia — As a new bride, 22-year-old Ummu Atirah believes she knows the secret to a blissful marriage: obey her husband and ensure he is sexually satisfied.
Ummu and some 800 other Muslim women in Malaysia are members of the “Obedient Wives Club” that is generating controversy in one of the most modern and progressive Muslim-majority nations, where many Muslim Malaysian women hold high posts in the government and corporate world.
The new club, launched Saturday, says it can cure social ills such as prostitution and divorce by teaching women to be submissive and keep their men happy in the bedroom.
“Islam compels us to be obedient to our husband. Whatever he says, I must follow. It is a sin if I don’t obey and make him happy,” said Ummu, who wore a yellow headscarf.
In response, The Perak Women for Women Society gave its views on the Obedient Wives’ Club and women’s rights.
Malaysia: Perspectives on the Obedient Wives’ Club
There has been much furore over the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by a fringe Islamic group causing heated debate among women and men, alike. Ipoh Echo sought the views of two Malay Muslim women who helm a women’s rights movement here in Ipoh. Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Puan Halida Mohd Ali are from the Perak Women for Women Society.
Here are their answers to our questions:
IE: Your views on the formation of the Obedient Wives’ Club by Islamic fringe group, Global Ikhwan on Saturday, June 4.
SHARIFAH: Obedient Wives’ Club (OWC) is a farce. It has belittled and insulted women’s role as a wife. Their calling on women to behave like first-class prostitutes in order to keep their husbands satisfied so they will not stray has reduced women’s status to that of a legal prostitute – a sex slave, so to speak. The fact that the statement is being made by a woman is in itself disgusting! We are not a sex object at the beck and call of our husbands. Healthy marriages develop from mutual understanding, love, trust, respect and having similar visions for the family. This club should instead be dubbed, “The Stupid Wives’ Club” or “The Hot Wives’ Club”.
Puan Halida Mohd Ali, Perak Women for Women
HALIDA: The club is an affront to women’s dignity. It sees women as subservient individuals who have no minds of their own. Are the club’s members themselves obedient and exemplary? Are they, being what they are, qualified to counsel us on morality? The club should instead find ways to improve marriage, parenting and empowerment. This is more beneficial.
June 16, 2011
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Malaysia: Perspectives on the Obedient Wives’ Club | Women …
Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, Perak Women for Women. SHARIFAH: Obedient Wives’ Club (OWC) is a farce. It has belittled and insulted women’s role as a wife.
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