Sat, Jan 14, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Cold water poured on Iraqi passions

NO ENERGY Among scores of hardships in Iraq is a lack of electricity in Baghdad and across the central region, which has had a serious impact on Muslims' sex lives


Ahmed Hadi and his new wife Tiba Mohammed, like many young married couples in Baghdad, are not getting enough sex. The problem, they say, is not a lack of desire but of power -- electrical power.

Making love for many of Iraq's Muslim population not only requires a willing partner but also a sure supply of water -- preferably hot in the winter -- to enable the participants to take a shower afterwards before going to pray.

No hot water means no hot shower and therefore prayers, which take place five times a day for devout Muslims, can become a problem.

Either a couple avoids sex or they are forced to take a cold dip, not a pleasant prospect during the winter months.

"I have less sex than I want because there is no hot water to wash with afterwards," moaned Hadi, 25, a Baghdad local who works in the water sector and has only been married for two weeks.

"Sometimes, when we are in the middle of making love the electricity turns off so we have to stop. I get out of bed to put a generator on and then we have to wait for the water to heat up," he said.

On the evening of the Eid Al-Adha (Muslim feast of the sacrifice) holiday which started on Tuesday, Hadi had hoped for a night of romance.

"Unfortunately, the electricity cut out from 5pm until 11pm. There was nothing for us to do other than sit and look at each other. I did not get married just to have conversation," he said.

In contrast to the situation in Iraq, power cuts in Western countries often lead to a spike in births nine months later as couples abandon watching television to share a warm bed.

Baghdad and much of central Iraq is suffering its worst ever electricity shortage, said a Western diplomat. The power is on for just two to six hours per day in the capital.

In contrast, southern and northern Iraq -- where most of the power stations are based -- have more energy than before the US-led invasion when ex-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein used to divert most of the power to Baghdad, depriving everyone else.

Following his downfall in 2003, US-led and Iraqi projects have been launched to generate permanent power for all of Iraq, but so far they have failed to make much impact.

This is because the US-led coalition underestimated the dilapidated state of Iraq's electricity infrastructure following a decade of international sanctions, the diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

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