THE VIRGIN OBSESSION

In Islam, as in many other religions, sex is forbidden outside of marriage. What does this mean for young Muslims who live in modern, western societies? We follow four protagonists who have broken with their families and friends because they reject attitudes to morality that make sexuality punishable.

In Islam, as in many other religions, sex is forbidden outside of marriage. What does this mean for young Muslims who live in modern, western societies? How significant is virginity for young people from immigrant families? For young Muslims, sexual autonomy is a constant battle against the values handed down by their parents' generation. This film focuses on psychologist Ahmad Mansour, lawyer and women’s rights activist Seyran Ateş, Femen activist Zana Ramadani and the young student Arife Yalniz. They have all struggled to achieve independence, and had to break with their families and friends – simply because they did not accept attitudes to morality which make sexuality punishable and are still preached in many mosques today, as they were 900 years ago. The film also shows that men are equally affected by these constraints. They are raised to uphold a perception of maleness that declares the man to be the guardian of the female members of his family and obliges him to reproduce these archaic role models. All this has its roots in the demonisation of female sexuality. "If the obsession with virginity could finally come to an end," says Seyran Ateş, “then so too would this madness."

Genre Current Affairs, Society, Feature Documentary
Length 90' / 58' HD
Film by Güner Yasemin Balci
Production HANFGARN & UFER Filmproduktion in co-production with ZDF / Das kleine Fernsehspiel and ARTE with the support of nordmedia
Original Title Der Jungfrauenwahn / L'obsession de la virginité
Year 2015

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In Islam, as in many other religions, sex is forbidden outside of marriage. What does this mean for young Muslims who live in modern, western societies? How significant is virginity for young people from immigrant families? For young Muslims, sexual autonomy is a constant battle against the values handed down by their parents’ generation. This film focuses on psychologist Ahmad Mansour, lawyer and women’s rights activist Seyran Ateş, Femen activist Zana Ramadani and the young student Arife Yalniz. They have all struggled to achieve independence, and had to break with their families and friends – simply because they did not accept attitudes to morality which make sexuality punishable and are still preached in many mosques today, as they were 900 years ago. The film also shows that men are equally affected by these constraints. They are raised to uphold a perception of maleness that declares the man to be the guardian of the female members of his family and obliges him to reproduce these archaic role models. All this has its roots in the demonisation of female sexuality. “If the obsession with virginity could finally come to an end,” says Seyran Ateş, “then so too would this madness.”

Society / Feature Documentary
Length 90’/58′ HD
Film by Güner Yasemin Balci
Co-Production HANFGARN & UFER Filmproduktion with ZDF / Das kleine Fernsehspiel and ARTE with the support of nordmedia, 2015
Original Title Der Jungfrauenwahn / L’obsession de la virginité

Festivals and Awards:
Religion Today Film Festival, Italy, 2016
Bavarian TV Award 2016 for Güner Yasemin Balci
Juliane Bartel Medienpreis 2016 for Güner Yasemin Balci