The Caged Virgin

The Caged Virgin

Cover of the first edition
Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Original title De maagdenkooi
Language Dutch
Subject Women in Muslim societies
Publisher Free Press
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print
Pages 187
ISBN 978-0-7432-8833-0
OCLC 64390639
LC Class BP173.4 .H5813 2006
Preceded by De zoontjesfabriek (2002)
Followed by Infidel (2006)
LCCN 2006-43345

The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason, also published as The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam, (Dutch: De maagdenkooi), is a 2004 book by the former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Caged Virgin was first published in English in 2006. In the book Hirsi Ali discusses her own struggle with Islam, intended as a model how other Muslim women may achieve their own emancipation. In advising women how to address the divide between Western and Islamic thought, she draws on her firsthand knowledge of the Islamic world and the philosophical tradition originating in the Enlightenment.[1]

Hirsi Ali contends that in Islamic regions Muslim women who seek solace and escape from Islam are typically threatened with death, and those Muslim women who do escape the "virgins' cage" are branded whores. The author discusses Islamic views on the role of women, the rights of individuals, the roots of Islamic fanaticism, and proposes Western policies toward Islamic countries and immigrant communities.


The book was praised by Natasha Walter of The Guardian, who wrote, "The Caged Virgin is a shocking read. Ayaan Hirsi Ali rages at crimes that are done to women by men: from forced marriage to female genital mutilation; from denial of education to sexual abuse within the family. Her fury about these crimes makes her essays vibrant and inspiring, as she reminds her readers that women do not have to accept violence in the home or stunted ambitions."[2] The book was also lauded by the author and journalist Christopher Hitchens.[3]

See also


  1. Chadwick, Alex (May 4, 2006). "'The Caged Virgin': A Call for Change in Islam". NPR. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  2. Walter, Natasha (2 December 2006). "Religion and righteousness". The Guardian. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  3. Hitchens, Christopher (May 8, 2006). "The Caged Virgin: Holland's shameful treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.". Slate. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
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