© Michelle 2006
Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format.
Memo to passengers from the Gulf Transport Agency
Unfortunately we once again have to remind passengers of our coach, ship and aircraft services that the transport of unmarried girls of an age suitable for marriage without being accompanied by a male relative is not permitted.
Obviously with the current situation whereby husbands travel extensively around the region and onwards to the rest of the world on matters of business we do appreciate that they would like to see their wives regularly. Because of this we have in the past few years begun to allow married women to travel alone or with young children provided they are completely veiled. However we are afraid that we simply cannot extend this service to those daughters who because of their unmarried status would present too much of a distraction to our younger male clients. In fact we believe that only by being able to state categorically that all ladies travelling on our services are married are we able to assure those married ladies of a safe and uninterrupted passage.
Of course this can sometimes present an immediate problem at the point of embarkation and so to avoid cancellation of the trip for the mother, we would remind customers that all of our coach stations, sea and airports are now equipped with storage cubicles for daughters refused passage on our services. These small cubicles come with all the facilities required for the girl to remain there in a kneeling position safely until her mother’s return, be it a day, week, month or more later. All cubicles face Mecca and have adequate height for all but the tallest young woman to remain in the kneeling position and lift her head high enough for prayer. Inside she will find a heavy robe and veil which provided it is worn at all times and she completes the gruelling schedule of prayers required each day, she will be provided with adequate food and drink to survive the punishing temperatures that inevitably build up inside these dark units. We would remind customers who ask why they are not fitted with lights and air conditioning that we do provide these cubicles and the food and drink free of charge save for the surrender of the original ticket so the company does in fact make a considerable loss already on providing this facility.
However for those who do need to have their daughters travelling the world without the company of their fathers, we are now pleased to be able to offer an alternative. Using the services of our associate freight company we are able to offer the hire of a new system specially designed for us which allows carriage on all of our worldwide network of transportation services, although if several daughters are travelling it is advisable to use a consolidated shipment to ensure all are delivered to the final destination together. A complete description of the system follows.
Your daughter must be first be dressed in the simple long sleeved ankle length white dress, white gloves and white socks provided. She must now sit down on the short plank which should be supported at both sides using four wooden chairs or suchlike and the girl must reach back pushing her arms through the holes provided in the plank and then lie back with her arms facing upwards. By reaching underneath her mother should be able to tighten the five leather straps on each arm thereby holding her firmly in place. It is vital that no allowance is made for comfort here as during transportation any movement will in fact lead to extreme discomfort, the exact opposite of what is required. By lifting her head slightly, her hair should now be pulled backwards through the hole provided and the weighted hairgrip provided clamped firmly around the hair. This should then be offered to her hands with the reminder that if she drops it when in transportation she will not be able to reach it again and the swinging weight can lead to a severe headache.
A headscarf should now be fitted before the separate wooden hijab is clipped into place. This should have been provided in the correct size to keep her head firmly still but any movement can be dealt with by pressing in some of the polythene packing the wooden hijab was wrapped in. Again a complete lack of movement is essential.
Up until now, the feet will have been resting on the floor. Simply bending the legs right back at the knee and under the plank allows them to be lifted up to the straps similar to those supporting the arms. These must of course also be tightened as far as they will go.
The daughter is now held in a near perfect straight line from head to knee, with all limbs wrapped under her. Of course, this does not give an optimal storage solution but the far more efficient alternative of kneeling in a much smaller box with head tucked between the knees causes poor posture and excessive curvature to the spine so is not used.
Looking underneath, the mother should be able to see a hole in the plank between her daughter’s bound feet through which her daughter’s bottom should be pressing. She should cut away the material of the dress in the shape of this hole, allowing about a half-inch of extra material to surround the hole. Of course those not reading the instructions carefully will cut the material flush with the wood leading to the girl’s delicate body coming into direct contact with the wood which can be most distressing to the occupant over time. The strings of the plastic bag provided is now pushed up through this hole at the four points marked and the ends tied tightly across her waist and thighs to prevent spillage.
The two wooden end pieces with the protruding metal poles should now be offered to the matching slots each side of her head and knees respectively. These will support her so the chairs or other supports can now be removed. The base piece now slides into position in the grooves in the end pieces and then one side piece can also be fitted. Some form of padding, usually the girl’s own clothes needed for the trip should be pushed into the gap underneath the main plank so as to fill the space completely before the other side piece is slotted in.
You now have a box like structure of one metre twenty five long, forty centimetres wide and forty centimetres high with an open top. Next the gag supplied must be fitted into her mouth, ensuring that the two little tubes one the part of the gag still protruding out of her wide open mouth face upwards into each nostril so as to ensure an adequate supply of air which is taken from several vents around the box so as to ensure that if one is blocked an unfortunate accident does not occur. A small battery motor will slowly pump water into her mouth, the water bottle provided if filled to the brim will last the duration of the planned journey with a few hours to spare. However if any unforeseen delays occur the company is able to refill the bottles through a special valve so there is no cause for concern as to your daughter’s safety here provided the packing instructions have been followed completely.
The earplugs provided also reduce disturbance to your daughter and make her gruelling journey somewhat less distressing. Although she is wearing hijab, as you are aware it is company policy that all females travelling with the company wear full niqab. We thus request that suitable veiling affixed to her face to ensure that should a box need to be opened for any purpose shame or distress will be caused neither to the occupant or those opening the box. Finally the rest of her body should be covered in a bedspread or similar item to pad her well and keep her warm for the trip whereupon the top can be clipped into place. Special tools are now required to open the box so please ensure everything is correct before this happens.
The shipping label provided should be affixed to the box and the telephone number provided called to arrange collection. Please note that we cannot always guarantee a quick response so we recommend packing is completed at least twenty four hours before your journey is due to commence. Our male operatives will arrive with the special wheeled trolleys needed to move the box but please ensure all ladies present are fully veiled on the day of collection to prevent unnecessary delay to their busy schedule, remembering that if they are delayed your daughter may miss her reserved journey and have to wait for another slot or even be re-routed altogether. This can also cause problems with the pre-arranged customs clearances we have set up in most major destinations.
The system has only been introduced recently but by the steady increase in use we anticipate it providing a much needed service whilst keeping our transport network free of the highly distracting sight of unmarried girls. We trust this fact can be used by parents to persuade those potential clients who may be nervous of travelling in this manner of the complete safety and privacy of the scheme which has been confirmed by the local religious authorities as meeting all the requirements of purdah.
With Kindest Regards
Special Cargoes Manager
Gulf Transport Agency