Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tribal Wives

I watched a TV show the other day that really got me thinking about the role of women in society. The show was BBC's Tribal Wives. In the show six British women swap their everyday lives for life as tribal wives in some of the most remote communities on earth. Like many women today juggling career, home and family, they feel that something is missing. By spending time in societies where female roles are very different, they hope to find answers that could change their lives.
Charlie with her Yoruk family.
The episode I watched was in the remote Yoruk community in the hills of Turkey. Twenty-three-year-old Charlie Brades from Hampshire joins the Yoruk, a tribe of nomads who live in the remote mountains of southern Turkey. 
She arrives and is dressed like the Yoruk women and slowly taught her role as a 'wife' in that community over a period of a month. The Yoruk live in little family groups, all sleeping and eating under the same small tent. The family which Charlie became a part of consisted of the father, his two wives, three sons and his daughter.   Charlie learned to tend the goats, cook traditional foods and wear a headscarf.
I found it fascinating to watch how a western girl struggled to fit into a traditional and very patriarchal society. For all her struggles, she had a wonderful time and made some very close friends. The most important thing that she seemed to learn was that family is very important and that hard work is satisfying.
One of the wives in the family group.
Making the flat bread.
Yoruk tents.
Traditional Salwar pants worn by the tribal women.
The most interesting or 'eye-opening' part of the show for me was seeing how little men in this society do! The women rose before the men every morning to prepare breakfast. Once breakfast is ready, they wake the men and everyone eats together. The women tend the goats and camels, make all the food, find the firewood, build the fences... they do virtually everything! And when the time comes to pack up the tent and move on to better grazing areas for the goats, the women again do most of the packing up and setting up work. The men seemed to simply sit around doing nothing for most of the day! 
Seeing how some women have to live makes me very thankful for my own helpful and caring husband. Sometimes I feel that he should help me make the bed more often, or do the dishes when I want him to, but the fact remains that he does help me with all those things and many more! 
In general we are very blessed as women in western countries. Our husbands treat us well and we have all the comforts of life. We don't have to fear the pain of having our husbands take a second wife or of being the second wife. We have opportunities to be educated and to work in whichever way we prefer. We are free to dress as we choose and we mostly live in privacy with the option of interacting as much or as little with others around us as we so desire. I pray that I remember what I have learned and treat my husband with all the respect he deserves for providing such a wonderful life for me!

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