By Jan’s wife Souad.
Piercing the ears of our daughters is a debate I have been having with my husband since our eldest was born, over eight years ago.
I never suspected ear-piercing to be such a controversial subject. Well, suffice to browse a couple of UK forums to witness tempers flaring and name-calling as soon as the question is asked: “At what age is it appropriate for a girl to get her ears pierced?”
I asked my English friends. Their verdict is unanimous: the minimum age is 12, preferably 16. They see ear-piercing as a sign of womanhood. In their minds, piercing ears is linked to puberty and responsibility.
According to my husband, little German girls with earrings is the ultimate sign that her parents are uneducated.
Similarly in England, little girls with earrings = CHAV family.
Once again, this is essentially a cultural issue. In Algeria, it is customary for little girls to get their ears pierced at a very young age. Heck, you could be accused of mistreating your daughter if her earlobes are intact by her fourth birthday!
A couple of generations ago, even boys got their ears pierced, so that the evil eye mistakes them for a girl and spares them.
I have a theory: I think early ear-piercing in Algeria gives the message that girls are allowed to wear and display ornaments. Because they will have done so practically from birth, they do not require any more modifications to their body in adulthood (piercings, tattoos etc). They would have had them in their childhood otherwise. Remember, tattoos, scarifications and body alterations in general are forbidden in Islam.
The debate in our household has resurfaced once more. Our 8.5 year old daughter has been asking for over six months now to have her ears pierced. Dad is still reluctant, but has refrained from telling her, “I don’t want people to think I am a Chav!”