'Obedient Wives Club' blames social ills on women who aren't 'good sex workers to their husbands'

Ishak Md Nor, 40, is surrounded by his wives, Aishah Abdul Ghafar, left, 40, and Afiratul Abidah Mohd Hanan, 25, who are members of the newly launched Obedient Wives Club in Malaysia. (AP Photo)Ishak Md Nor, 40, is surrounded by his wives, Aishah Abdul Ghafar, left, 40, and Afiratul Abidah Mohd Hanan, 25, …Earlier this month, a controversial new club launched in Malaysia. Dubbed The Obedient Wives Club, the 800 or so members are certain that they've found the key to a long and happy marriage: Obey your husband without question, and cater to his every sexual whim.

"Disobedient wives are the cause for upheaval in this world," the club's vice president and co-founder, Dr. Rohayah Mohamad, told told the Associated Press. She blames the country's rising divorce rate-as well as incidents of prostitution, rape, and even incest-on wives who have neglected to keep their husbands satisfied in bed.

"When husbands come home, wives do not welcome their husbands with warm alluring smiles and sexy dressing ... That is the reality today," she said. "A good wife is a good sex worker to her husband."

The Obedient Wives Club is the creation of Global Ikhwan, a religious group founded by former members of Al-Argam, a sect that was outlawed in 1994 for straying too far from the tenets of Islam. In 2009, Global Ikhwan caused an uproar when it set up a polygamy club that "encourages husbands to take more than one wife to satisfy their masculine desires," The Malay Mail newspaper reported. Most of the members of the Obedient Wives Club are also members of Al-Argam.

Last week, a representative of the Malaysian Prime Minister said that the club was deliberately creating controversy to gain publicity and more members.

"My guess is that the group is conducted by their husbands and they might be sending the wrong message to wives on what constitutes obedience to a husband," Dr. Masitah Ibrahim told the Malay Mail. " She says she is concerned about the club because the term "obedient" can be used to manipulate women. "For example, a husband can use the term to ask his first wife to seek the hand of another woman to be his second wife, and that if she doesn't do it, she is regarded a disobedient wife. It will be a husband's weapon to manipulate the situation," she said.

The club, which was first formed in Jordan on May 1 and established in Malaysia on June 4, has sparked outrage among women the world over. Even so, new branches are planned around the globe; a chapter in Indonesia opens later this week, and clubs are planned for parts of Europe later this year. There is no official group in the U.S. so far, but some say its principals are similar to the movement founded in 2001 by Laura Doyle with the publication of her book, "The Surrendered Wife."

In her book, Doyle says that "The control women wield at work and with children must be left at the front door of any marriage" and promises marital happiness and peace as long as women "Give up unnecessary control and responsibility" and "Trust their husbands in every aspect of marriage, from sexual to financial."

But there is a key difference: While the advice in "The Surrendered Wife" hinges on trust and self improvement ("I am not saying that you are responsible for every problem in your marriage," Doyle writes in her book. "You are not. Your husband has plenty of areas he could improve, too, but that's nothing you can control. You can't make him change, you can only change yourself") the Obedient Wives Club seems to hold women responsible for every social and marital problem in existence.

"The club preaches that the key to a successful and happy marriage is something other than an equal partnership," said Melissa Dowler of The Long Haul Project, a documentary she and her husband, Tom, are working on about the state of modern marriage. "They claim that the world would be a better place if women were to subjugate themselves emotionally and sexually to their husbands. We couldn't disagree more with this concept or their implication that strong, empowered women are responsible for the world's ills."

"This group sets women, and the institution of marriage, back decades if not centuries," Dowler added.

What do you think? Is it fair to blame society's problems on "disobedient wives," or is the club using "obedience" as a way to manipulate women?

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