“I Cannot Go to a Gynecologist. If I do I’ll Have Problems with My Husband,” says a Pregnant Aisha

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Burundi has a lot of Muslims, but it doesn’t have a lot of female Muslim gynecologists which is a problem for Muslims trying to make more Muslims. Well more of a problem for Muslim women. The men just start on another baby if this one dies and start on another wife if this one dies.

“I cannot go to a gynecologist. If I do I’ll have problems with my husband,” says a pregnant Aisha. Like her, many Muslim women in Burundi are not allowed to be treated by a male doctor. It is forbidden. In a country with only three women gynecologists, access to specialised healthcare for Muslim women is limited.

Aisha, a young shopkeeper, must always be accompanied by her husband Mohamed Issa either for routine check-ups or any other medical treatment.

“I cannot accept the fact that my wife goes alone to the hospital,” says Issa. “I cannot stand the idea of my wife being touched by another man, not even a doctor.”

A Muslim religious leader, who prefers anonymity, says it is a universal law and that their faith forbids women from being treated by male doctors. He says “women can only be treated by Muslim women.” But he adds that in the case of Burundi, where female doctors are few, non-Muslim female doctors are accepted and a male doctor can intervene only in the event of medical complications. “But then the husband needs to be present,” he insists.

There are only three female and 15 male gynecologists in the whole of Burundi. One of them, who wants to remain anonymous, says that she is always overbooked and that most of her patients are Muslim.

“I don’t know how long I can live with these religious prescriptions,” says Aisha. “It would be easy to go to the nearest hospital. But it is very hard to convince my husband.”

While waiting for the situation to improve, Aicha and many other Muslim women can only count on themselves to convince their husbands to change their attitude.

This may take some time as Aicha’s husband keeps saying that “I find it shameful to watch a gynecologist touch my wife, especially certain hidden parts of her body. I can’t accept it.”

  • anna

    I find this Objection quite natural even among western Male and Women..I think it understandable that some women including men don't want a male touching them..Doctor or not,it still a Sensative isuue..on this I agree the Muslims are correct to Object unless there is no Female Doctor available in that cause Obviously it necessary..in some Catholic Countries there the overall acceptable Practice is that women will visit a woman doctor.Personally this Article doesn't make Muslims look bad as all the others do..you will find that many Readers will pick holes in this article..

    • objectivefactsmatter

      You miss the point. Personally, you can choose what you want…unless you are a Muslim woman.

      Get it? The idea is not to "make Muslims look bad." The idea is to tell the complete truth about how Islam affects people individually and collectively. Islam is very bad for women (to name only the largest group). Muslims come in all stripes, just like any other group. But Islam empowers male oppressors. Judeo-Christianity and its cultural ancestors promote equality among all people as individuals.

  • Yodan

    This is obviously a personal choice, However, it is wrong to deprive a pregnant woman of pre-natal care based on the gender of the OBGYN. Just wrong.

    • anna

      ".on this I agree the Muslims are correct to Object unless there is no Female Doctor available in that cause Obviously it necessary." I think the Article was not just about pre-natal care but involve a more personal nature..as i said it that the only option clearly it necessary then

  • TXJenny

    In Christian society…including TRADITIONAL Catholic society…a woman is NOT the property of her husband. It is HER choice…her personal preference alone…as to whether she sees a male or female doctor. Moslem males in Burundi are too vicious to be men…for that one must be virtuous…and jealousy is not a virtue.

  • husband

    i agree that it is wrong for a woman to see a mmale gynecologist. what i do not understand is how some doctor that is o educated and smart fails to see how it makes people feel to have their 'privates' comprimised and modesty shreded to bits. i have always felt that it was wrong, i have been to these 'check-ups' with my wife, it is very graphic and explicit, and i will probably always resist the idea of the male doctor on a female pateint for this reason. also, if the woman is pregnant, whats wrong with a mid-wife? for many thousands of years we used them with no trouble.

  • NotJustAWoman

    I believe that the only reason a husband would object to a male OB-GYN trying to keep his wife and child alive is because that husband would violate a woman if he had the opportunity. A gynecologist is a professional who has received training and a license to help women. I would imagine if you were in a horrible accident and facing death, you would want a qualified physician to save your life: male or female.

    Birth is dangerous, bloody, and not private. If you don't want your wife to be safe during her pregnancy and delivery, don't touch her and make her pregnant. Mid-wives are very important in the birthing process, however they are not trained surgeons. OB-GYNs are capable of performing complicated procedures if there is a problem–a mid-wife is helpless against massive bleeding and rupture. Someone has to do the dirty work, and if women are constantly denied opportunities to get an education and become the female gynecologist you insist upon, then male physicians will have to do.

    You can't have it both ways.

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