My first encounter with Pakistan in 1993 took my innocence. I discovered a culture pervaded with sexuality – sexuality in a very negative sense. Absolutely everything, from the most trivial day-to-day matters to the most earth-shaking issues, had to do with sex – at least where girls and women were concerned. The same fixation on sex has found its way to the West through immigration.

For example, the use of hijab, which is a key element of Islam's view of sex, has all but exploded in Norway during the last few decades. Earlier this year we had a big national debate about hijab. It's time to ask why Islam is so preoccupied with subduing women's sexuality. Women had a pretty high level of sexual freedom in the heathen, pre-Islamic society on the Arabian peninsula. A woman could have relationships with several men at once, she could divorce easily, and she could decide who would get to be the father of her children. Above all, women and children were, socially and economically, part of the tribal society. A striking example of women's freedom prior to Islam is that Muhammad's first wife, Khadja, was a leading businesswoman in Mecca, and it was she who proposed to Muhammad, who was twenty years her junior. One could look far and wide in today's Mecca without finding such a free woman in today's Mecca. What happened?

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