A British ethnographer, T. W. Hockley, visited Male’ in 1935 and expressed his views on Maldivian women:
“Of the women of the place I saw but few during my sojourn in Male’. Although it is a Moslem country women do not go veiled, but, nevertheless, they seemed very shy and timid as deer, and run inside their houses on the approach of a stranger. The women as a rule are fairer than the men though this may be accounted for, perhaps, because they probably do not expose themselves so much to the sun, their domestic duties keeping them for longer periods indoors. They are possessed of good figures and regular features and some of the young women are distinctly attractive and good-looking.
“In spite of this apparent shyness, however, I was told that chastity is not always a very strong point among them. Many are mutable in their affections and being passionate in their nature are much inclined to sexuality. There is a considerable amount of venereal disease prevalent I believe. This has, however, possibly been imported and is probably due to the men returning after a protracted stay in other ports where they have contracted such diseases and brought them back them with them.
“Pyrard in his ‘Voyages aux Indes’ refers repeatedly to the laxity of morals among Maldivian women and also to the prevalence of venereal diseases even in his time.”
I could not help but laugh when I read his view of us Maldivian women in 1935, so thought of sharing this with you! Misconceived or not?
Hockley, T. W. (1935) The Two Thousand Isles: A Short Account of the People, History and Customs of the Maldive Archipelago, London: H.F.& G. Witherby.