Islam, Sex and AIDS

In 1995, the Council of Ulemas in Indonesia urged that condoms only be made available to married couples, and on prescription.

In Iran, a worker found to be HIV-positive can lose his job and doctors and hospitals have the right to refuse treatment to AIDS patients. An official of Pakistan’s AIDS Control Program told Foreign Policy magazine in 2005 that the problem was smaller in his country because of “better social and Islamic values.” This in a state where the law allows a woman to be sentenced to be gang-raped in order to expiate the “shame”of a crime committed by her brother. This is the old religious combination of repression and denial: a plague like AIDS is assumed to be unmentionable because the teachings of the Koran are enough in themselves to inhibit premarital intercourse, drug use, adultery, and prostitution.

Even a very brief visit to, say, Iran, will demonstrate the opposite. It is the mullahs themselves who profit from hypocrisy by licensing “temporary marriages,” in which wedding certificates are available for a few hours, sometimes in specially designated houses, with a divorce declaration ready to hand at the conclusion of business. You could almost call it prostitution.

The last time I was offered such a bargain it was just outside the ugly shrine to the Ayatollah Khomeini in south Tehran. But veiled and burqa-clad women, infected by their husbands with the virus, are expected to die in silence. It is a certainty that millions of other harmless and decent people will die very miserably and quite needlessly, all over the world as a result of this obscurantism.

From God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens

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