Chad purdah


Women need to know their place

Expand full comment

There is no society where a man's honor depends, not on his ability to avenge any insult offered to him, but on keeping his wife secluded. Thus if you observe that a particular man is ill treated by all and beaten, robbed or raped with impunity by those of vicious disposition, you are able to conclude that he is of low status. He is not considered an honorable man. His wife may be secluded but this does not affect his own status.

The correct question to ask is what incentive an honorable man- i.e. one whom none robs or rapes with impunity- might have to impose purdah on his womenfolk. This is social, political, and can change as productivity or a relevant opportunity cost ratio (i.e. comparative advantage) changes. When speaking of large swathes of territory over long lengths of time, you are likely to find a range of evolutionary stable strategies- e.g. pure pastoralist women have no seclusion while it increases as you approach urban centers. Here, what is relevant is reproductive success. Normally, this should favor sedentary, secluded, baby making machines but not always. In a period of 'folk-wandering', the tribes whose women fight may gain superior access to resources. Moreover, 'broken septs' would yield 'baby making machines' for the new overlords. What is interesting is that the 'Amazons' of such conquering tribes might find it in their interest to take the veil as Buddhist or Christian nuns and work for the creation and maintenance of a caste system based on degree of miscegenation. This phenomenon can also be found in Islam which has no monasticism.

Pakistan is interesting in that educated women were great supporters of Jinnah and some women- including a Jewish convert- gained a degree of political power. Was it inevitable this would be reversed? Suppose Pakistan had suffered the same economic crisis as Ershad's Bangladesh and had to do privatization and permit large factory dormitories for rural girls to supply the textile sector- could that have altered the current picture? What is certain is that all countries in the region have to raise the participation rate one way or another. But this can be done by replacing purdah with hijab.

Expand full comment

> Before modern medicine, maternity was incredibly dangerous yet nonetheless necessary for group survival.

Doctors made childbirth dangerous, resulting in the poor (who couldn't afford them and used midwives) to have a lower rate of maternal mortality.


Expand full comment