Traditional Iranian husbands, the sort found in the highest ranks of the Islamic Republic, sometimes refer to their wives as “the house.” For them, this is not just an expression of their understanding of gender relations. It is viewed as a necessary euphemism, vital protection for a woman’s honor. The mere uttering of her name, after all, might compromise her chastity. It is telling, therefore, that Mir Hossein Mousavi courted and eventually married Zahra Rahnavard.
Many religions practice self-flagellation rituals. Even today. Catholics in Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Philippines, and ultramontane Roman Catholics of the Opus Dei conviction flagellate themselves on Good Friday in fraternity with the suffering of Jesus. Among Sunnis, it is forbidden. Not so among the Shi'a, where there is no actual uniformity of belief and certainly not in practice.