The origins of controlling sex and sexuality

It was a powerful and unsettling statement in an already disturbing murder trial when Mohammed Shafia said his daughters' behaviour made him feel like a cuckold. With that one word, a father's presumed ownership of his daughters' sexuality was laid bare. And while his reaction - four murders - was clearly extreme, the idea of fathers or husbands or brothers controlling a woman's sexuality is neither new nor rare. From American Purity Balls to religious restrictions on contraception, we're looking at a history we all carry.



Part One of The Current

Satire

It's Wednesday, February 1st.

The NDP and Liberals attacked Conservatives for limiting debate on a new bill - saying it's the 13th time the government has done this.

In response, the government shot back that it's the quality of limiting debate - not the quantity - that really matters.

This is The Current.

The origins of controlling sex and sexuality - Faramerz Dabhoiwala

As the Shafia trial came to a close with first degree murder convictions for a father, mother and son - a lot of Canadians were left trying to make sense of it all. Three teenage girls and the woman who helped raise them - Mohammad Shafia's first wife in a polygamous marriage - were killed, because of behaviour that offended the father's sense of honour. Behaviour he deemed too immodest ... too sexual.

That such a thing could motivate murder was shocking to many. But according to our next guest, the West's attitude to this kind of crime is quite new. Even a few hundred years ago, Europeans executed adulterers. And for most of history, all civilizations handed down severe punishments to those, especially women, who broke the sex rules.

Faramerz Dabhoiwala is a fellow, tutor and lecturer in Modern History at the University of Oxford, and the author of a new book called The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution. We reached Faramerz Dabhoiwala in Oxford, England. 

This half-hour was produced be The Current's Kathleen Goldhar.


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