Mail & Guardian
Mail and Guardian editor Verashni Pillay has responded to recent “cyberbullying” attacks against her, saying it is not important what the abuse is linked to, but. South African Muslims who use the international sites are up against some seriously stiff competition. Consider: a Muslim woman here – sitting. South African news site the Mail & Guardian Online has joined the rush to offer the dating services of several local Web sites, including Ananzi Dating, Q-Men.
In those days, that is how most Muslim women met their match. The roles of Muslim women have changed substantially since then.
The emphasis was on learning how to cook, bake, sew and clean so that she could be the model wife, mother and daughter-in-law. Traditional roles But Muslim women have increasingly started to challenge these traditional roles. And yet it does exist beyond our insular local community thinking.
They were also bold enough to propose marriage. Community regression But as Laila says, generally speaking, the Muslim community seems to have regressed in this respect.
The reality that the Prophet of Islam actually married a year-old lady at the age of 25 seems to not be a consideration in this contemporary context. That was rather strange. It seemed like they were inspecting me for him, like I was a piece of meat, really.
Matchmaker Auntie Hajra, who is 71, tells me how she unwittingly fell into her role.
As a teenager, she moved to a small farm town after marriage and was asked by members of the community to help to arrange matches for young unmarried men and women. She has been doing it ever since.
It works something like this: The matchmaker records details such as age, profession, physical description and any other significant attributes they are seeking in their potential partner. They then go through their list of names and supply one number at a time to the boy, or the person inquiring on his behalf, who will then contact the girl. Some also expect a handsome gift when a match they facilitated is solemnised, which may be proportionate to the economic status of the groom. And, although some families and boys still prefer to do this, Faheema tells me that these days they encourage the boy and girl to meet for coffee in a public place instead.
One daadi [paternal grandmother] would make an arrangement with another daadi for her grandson to meet her granddaughter. Now invitations specify that only two persons per family can attend a wedding.
Mosques should organise gatherings with a social atmosphere, where people can meet within permissible limits. When I was studying at a strict girls-only Islamic educational institute in the late s, I can remember teenage girls who came from very strict upbringings giggling about guys they were chatting with on MXit, which only requires access to a very basic handset. They would meet them in various chat rooms catering for Muslims, and use the private messaging option to get to know each other.
But few people I know use MXit these days since the advent of other social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter. But for all the political and economic chaos that has engulfed Ukraine in the past three months, one industry is still thriving: The economies of several Ukrainian cities are boosted by the surreal and disingenuous online bride business, and Odessa is the biggest hub. It does not take long for a visitor to the city to stumble upon an "international date" — there are legions of western men in town meeting with young women they have met online, usually with the conversation facilitated by a translator.
At internet cafes and homes across the city, thousands of women spend hours each day chatting to prospective suitors online.
There is nothing like the prospect of economic hardship to facilitate intercontinental liaisons, and so, far from business drying up in recent months, the romance and "bride" trade is booming.
If anything, there are now more western men planning trips to Odessa than there were last year, when I accompanied a "romance tour" to Ukraine for a magazine story. I spent a week in Odessa with 29 men, all of them hoping to find a wife during their trip.
The men who go to Ukraine looking for a wife then fly home alone and broke
They were mainly Americans, but there were also Brits, an Italian and a Saudi on the tour. It has thousands of women in Ukraine and across the world on its books, available for chats and in-person meetings with lonely bachelors across the world looking for a wife.
As internet dating has gone mainstream over the past decade, Anastasia is attempting to rebrand what was once called the "mail-order bride" industry as something modern and progressive. This is no longer the preserve of seedy and exploitative men seeking vulnerable women from impoverished backgrounds to work as a longterm sex slave, the marketing suggests.SABC's Siphumelele Zondi makes it to M&G 200 Young S Africans list
This is "international dating", a civilised way to find romance without borders. Except that the branding is still somewhat disturbing. The men pay for every minute they chat online to a woman, something that it becomes clear is a dangerous part of the business model. The company claims on its website that finding a woman in Ukraine is like "dating a model, but with the values of your grandmother".
The men featured in testimonials are sick of western women, whom they insist have forgotten "family values". But the overall story was far more complex. Todd, who had not succeeded in finding his other half at home, had something of a compulsive side to his personality. He spent months methodically whittling down 1, possible brides on Anastasia's site to two top candidates. He then spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars chatting with them online.
Things were going swimmingly with both women. He assumed that his trip to Odessa would involve picking the one he liked most and taking her back with him. But when he arrived, neither of them answered his calls. While Todd's expectations for what a Ukrainian bride might offer were patently unrealistic, it was troubling to watch him venture ever further down the path of disappointment. Many of the men on the tour were less sympathetic characters than Todd, but all of them were lonely.
Some of them were disillusioned with dating scenes in the west, where women did not give them a look; others recovering from a divorce or the death of a spouse. Another man I spent a lot of time with was Stephen, a year-old from Texas, long-divorced, who was on his 11th trip to Ukraine with the desperate hope of finding a wife.
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I'm tired of having nobody to share my life with. On date two she told him she thought he could be her soulmate. By the end of the week he was sure he had found his future life partner.
It was an expensive week, with the dinners, taxis, and payment for a translator all adding up, but Stephen was delighted that he had found love. But love in Odessa is not all it seems.