If it seems to you that the times used to be better, women wore elegant dresses with crinolines, and men sang to them under the windows of a serenade, then you are only partly right. The history is filled with customs and traditions that will make even the most persistent shudder in the 21st century. Many of them concerned women, humiliating their dignity, and sometimes turning them into cripples. Today in the magazine “Furilia” I’ll tell you:
About traditions from the past that ruined women’s healthcare and life
By the way, some customs are still practiced and it is impossible to believe in it!
1. Belt of loyalty
About this metal device filmed a lot of gears. It can be seen in historical museums and films, but few people still know about the true purpose of the chastity belt. The widespread myth that knights and warriors wore it on their wives before leaving their home for a long time turned out to be untrue.
The first mention of the belt dates back to 1405. According to some experts, it was originally intended to protect women from rape, but this is not entirely true. The fact is that these “accessories” did not refer to the period of the Middle Ages, but to the reign of Queen Victoria, who was a strict moralist. She forbade all intimacy between a man and a woman, even if they were spouses to each other.
The girls were chained in chastity belts to protect them from adultery and attempts to satisfy themselves, which was considered a terrible sin. Sometimes they wore them all their lives even despite the fact that metal “fetters” often rubbed their skin, led to wounds, the development of sepsis and death.
In Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo for a long time there was a strange cultural phenomenon – “Virginia”. If the families did not give birth to boys or they died in childhood, one of the daughters, usually the youngest, was assigned to their role. She was given a masculine name, breasts were pulled down during adolescence, and men’s responsibilities were imputed.
Virginia did not dare to talk about herself in a feminine gender, play with girls and engage in women’s affairs. The villagers turned to her as a man, and showed immense respect for her parents. Many girls even began to consider their biological sex a mistake. They fought, drank, smoked, swore, took up men’s work and, unlike women, had the right to vote.
The Virginians vowed never to get married. They were given men’s passports, but for some reason they were not mourned, like men, during a funeral. The last Montenegrin virgin was Stana Tserovich, who died on August 1, 2016 at the age of 85. It is said that about 150 representatives of this phenomenon still live in Kosovo and Albania.
By the way, women became virginia for other reasons. In the mountainous regions blood feud was often widespread, when all the men of the family were massacred. In an attempt to save the boys, they were hidden, and they made virgin from their daughters. Also, this fate awaited all the girls whose engagement for some reason was terminated.
3. “Lotus legs”
For 100 years, until the beginning of the 20th century, in China, little girls were deliberately deformed feet so that they were as tiny as possible. For this, at the age of 4-5 years, they were tightly bandaged, pressing fingers to the soles. The leg from this did not stop growing, causing a lot of inconvenience and pain. By the age of 10, the girls received “lotus legs”, making them disabled for life, but guaranteeing a successful marriage.
A foot up to 7 cm long was called the “golden lotus”, up to 10 cm “silver”, and over “iron”. Women lost the ability to walk independently and lead an active lifestyle. Many were forever chained to a chair, but were considered “beauties”, because by the standards of the Chinese, girls should have small legs, a fragile figure and a mincing gait. Grooms would not look at women with normal legs.
The bandaging of the feet was done by the mothers of the girls or specially invited people. It usually took up to three years, fingers often broke, and nails fell off. Imprisoned in bandages and tiny pointed-toed shoes, the young Chinese women learned to walk again, breaking several kilometers a day to restore blood circulation in their legs. In addition, under the weight of the body, the foot acquired the desired shape.
Gradually, the bandages were tightened even tighter, because of which the bones could again break. A high rise was formed and a chicken egg could fit between the heel and fingers. Only commoners who needed to work hard avoided such a fate. And then poor parents tried to provide at least the eldest daughter with “lotus” feet. At that time, in China, a woman was considered the embodiment of weakness and passivity, the energy of “yin.” Having become a cripple, she completely depended on her family and husband, associating him with humility and chastity.
The rich married the crippled girls to further emphasize their status, which allowed them to free them from housework and generally need to walk. And women, left with normal legs, often reproached their mothers for the fact that they deprived them of the opportunity to marry successfully. They say that women with lotus legs still live in China.
For many years, elegant female figures were in fashion. To achieve perfect forms, the ladies wore a corset made of fabric and a whalebone, which was tightly tightened on their chest and waist. As a result, it was impossible to breathe. Girls suffered from deformation of internal organs, broken ribs, fainting, compression of the heart muscle and lungs. In addition, corsets often caused miscarriages. Only in the 19th century, doctors sounded the alarm, declaring this part of the women’s wardrobe extremely harmful to health, but how many young ladies managed to suffer from it – simply can not be counted.
5. Forced feeding
In Mauritania, the cult of a magnificent woman is still honored. In this country in western Africa, in order to be considered attractive and get married, girls have to gain weight from an early childhood, and by force. Food in Mauritania is in short supply, so a full wife is a sign of prestige and wealth.
Starting from the age of 8, girls are forcibly fed, and if they resist, they break their toes with ticks. Upon reaching marriage age, the girls live in a special camp in the desert, where they eat up to 16,000 calories per day. They include crackers with olive oil, bread, figs, goat meat, couscous and camel milk. Due to obesity, the Mauritanians suffer from heart problems and poor health.
Some, in order not to overload the stomach, take steroids that are not intended for humans. They are used for cattle fattening and contain growth hormone, because of which the proportions of the body are violated. The woman’s face, stomach and chest become large, while her arms and legs remain thin. Despite the fact that pills cause infertility and heart failure, it is easier for Maurits to consume them than to eat through force.
6. Female circumcision
The history of female circumcision originates from the Incas and continues to this day in some countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Cases have also been reported in France, Germany, Finland, the United States, Latin America and the United Kingdom. In the latter, the ban on circumcision has been in force since 1985, but there is still a tendency to violate it in large emigrant communities. The UN resolution adopted in 2012 does not stop the bloody operation. According to statistics, 84 million women in 30 countries of the world became victims of a brutal tradition.
Female circumcision aims to preserve the purity, virginity and fidelity of girls, killing any manifestations of sexual activity in the bud. It supposedly helps to increase male pleasure during sexual intercourse and carries a religious connotation, although neither the Koran nor the Bible speaks of the need for this procedure. The consequences are the most severe: frigidity, depression, blood poisoning, infertility, cysts, fistulas, chronic infections, abscesses, menstrual blood in the intestines, pain and even death.
There are several types of surgery. During the Sunna, the labia minora are removed, due to which the clitoris remains constantly open. If they cut it off, then this is excision. A woman is forever deprived of the opportunity to enjoy sex, becoming “indecent” in the eyes of her future husband. But the most severe procedure is infibulation or “pharaonic” circumcision, during which the labia majora is sutured so that there is only a small opening for the exit of menstrual blood.
Needless to say, that often the procedure is carried out by ignorant people in unsanitary conditions and without anesthesia. Women sometimes heal for months with bound legs. “Entrance” has the right to disrupt only the husband. It is also done at the time of delivery, and then it is sutured again. Girls suffer from unbearable pain, lose consciousness from shock, often dying from bleeding and complications …
7. Stretching the neck
In Myanmar, the Pdaung people live, who have their own ideals of beauty. Attractive here are women with long necks. Starting from 5 years old, a massive copper spiral is put on the girls, gradually increasing the number of rings. In adulthood, there can be 25, and the total weight of the structure can reach 5 kg. Not surprisingly, local residents were dubbed “giraffes.”
Links in a similar decoration merged. When the girl’s neck gets used to its width, they unfasten the bracelet and put on a new one, which is wider than the previous one. It is believed that no harm is done to the spine and neck, and the latter returns over time to its normal state if the spiral is removed. But it is not only not removed, but also put on feet and hands so that tourists’ attention to the unusual village does not decrease. It is believed that such a tradition originated in the days of slavery and still exists.
8. Honor killings
In India, Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, killing is widespread for the shame that the girl brought to the family. In Pakistan alone, about a thousand women die per year, but this is only official statistics. The murderers are relatives of the victim – father, brother or uncle. The reason for the brutal reprisal may be not only flirtation, betrayal or a desire to make a career, but also photos on social networks.
26-year-old Kandil Baloch, singer, model, feminist and star of Instagram, was killed by her own brother because she posted pictures candidly by the standards of Pakistan on the network. He pumped her with drugs, and then strangled her, getting a life sentence for this. A month later, in August 2016, a jealous Pakistani killed his second wife, suspecting her of infidelity.
Also on the lips of everyone in 2014 was the murder of 25-year-old Farzana Iqbal. The girl secretly married for love, refusing to marry a cousin, and was stoned to death with stones, which, among others, were thrown at her by her brother, father and ex-groom. An autopsy revealed that she was 3 months pregnant. The reprisal took place in broad daylight in the city center, but the police stood nearby and did not intervene.
9. Tooth cutting
The Mentawai people in Sumatra, as well as some Sudanese and Vietnamese tribes, have sharp teeth – not at all a fad, but the result of an ancient ritual. It is believed that women become more attractive, as well as gaining a better connection between soul and body. The local priest saws their teeth with a sharp knife without any anesthesia, so the procedure is extremely painful. A similar ritual existed among the Mayan tribe, but among the Indians the teeth were not only sharpened, but also covered with various patterns, decorated with stones and crowns.
In South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria, the custom of cauterizing female breasts with a hot object is still alive. This is done in order to stop its growth and not attract too much attention of men. Own mothers cripple their daughters so that they do not become pregnant and marry too early, but have the opportunity to receive an education. In Cameroon alone, every fourth inhabitant went through ironing.
From the age of 8, girls wear a tightening bandage, and if it does not help, they go through the “ironing” procedure of the chest. She is massaged and crushed by hot stones, spatulas, hammers and rolling pins, trying to crush and disfigure. It is forbidden to scream and cry during the ritual. As a result, scars, sagging breasts, asymmetry, lack of breast milk, cysts, deformation and even cancer. Many girls get psychological trauma for life, disgusted with their bodies and intimacy.