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Women of the Tuareg Tribe

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For centuries the nomadic Tuareg tribe have crossed the Sahara desert, their men famously known as the ‘blue men of the Sahara’ due to their blue faces dyed by their distinctive indigo scarves that wrap around their faces. But behind this ancient way of life is a culture that surprises most people.

For instance, the womenfolk have the same great freedoms as the men (some would argue even more) – something rare in the Muslim world. Here are some interesting facts:

1. Women are allowed to have multiple sex partners before marriage. The only stipulation is that her nighttime trysts have to be discreet – as in, the male partner can only come to her bed at night and leave by dawn. And her family has to be discreet about it.

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2. If they do get divorced (in most cases, they’ll instigate it), women keep all their property, including the animals which are very important to the Tuareg tribe. Once a woman is divorced, a party is thrown in her honor, announcing that she is available again.

3. Men cover their faces, not the women. According to a tribesman, this is because the men find their women’s faces so beautiful that they find it a shame to keep them hidden.

4. It’s the elder women who are revered in a tribe, so much so that their sons-in-law wouldn’t dare eat in the same room. In fact, it’s rude for a man to eat in the same room as a woman who isn’t his wife.

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5. The Tuaregs are a matri-lineal community, tracing their ancestry through their women. The men, once married, would belong to the women’s family.

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However, this unique tribe’s way of living may be under threat by the likes of ISIS and the Boko Haram. Some women are now wearing the hijab and while for the moment this seems to be a fashion statement, who knows what their future holds. But there is hope in this proud tribe which has survived mainly intact for the last 1,000 years.

Originally posted here.

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