Calls for Pre-marital Health Tests in Bahrain

MANAMA Bahrain Unregistered temporary marriages increase the risk of sexual transmitted diseases, a doctor in Manama warned on Thursday.

One particular HIV case that was reported among a Bahraini national and woman revealed that she contracted the virus last year after being involved in separate temporary marriages commonly known as Muta’a
(pleasure) here in Bahrain. Head of the National Sexually Transmitted Diseases Programme, Dr Sumaya Al Jowder, told Khaleej Times that Muta’a is banned by the government so such marriages don’t go through the right channels permanent marriages go through, mainly pre-marital tests.

“The tests are compulsory for permanent marriages as no judge would approve it (marriage) without them.”

Muta’a is religiously permitted among Shias, as it is being practiced unofficially among this community.

Dr Al Jowder has been trying to convince the government to recognise this type of marriages to prevent the spread of sexual diseases.

“We are not involved in telling scholars what is right or wrong, just that we care about the health of the public, so compulsory pre-marital tests should be imposed on temporary marriages.”

She said there was a need for greater awareness about safe sex among young couples. The High Cassation Court judge and Shia scholar, Shaikh Mohsen Al Asfoor, defended the religious sanctity given to Muta’a, which he said was prevalent in the early years of Islam when men were in the army and had to travel far away from their homes