Today’s Modern Harems

Jillian Lauren was raised in a typical middle class New Jersey family. But as a teenager, she went down an unexpected road, dropping out of college, becoming an escort and spending a year and a half living in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei.

Now a New York Times bestselling author, she is taking a stand against culture-based abuse and the oppression of women.

Jillian published a memoir of her experience, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. She describes the hedonistic lifestyle of the Brunei royal family, Prince Jefri’s harem filled with 30 to 40 women, many younger than 16, and a drunken evening she spent at the Kuala Lampur Hilton with the Sultan of Brunei himself. 

For years, Jillian has written, blogged and told stories about the subjugation of women, while working for the empowerment of women, making change by publicizing a personal narrative few have the courage to tell. And, in the last few days, Jillian has been speaking out in the media against the government of Brunei. Why now? Because just a few weeks ago, the Sultan made Brunei the first East Asian country to adopt Islamic sharia law.

Although actions like adultery, alcohol consumption, abortions and homosexuality are now punishable by law with stonings and harsh beatings, it seems clear that the Sultan’s family is exempt. Brunei’s double standard, where money and power buy license to indulge the whims that result in death for the less powerful, is but a small mark of the greater problems of sharia law.

And though countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan have enforced sharia for years, the world is at last paying attention, because this time, Hollywood has finally stood up and is expressing outrage at the horrible crimes perpetrated under a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Sultan of Brunei has investments in the popular Beverly Hills Hotel, which is now being boycotted by Hollywood celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres, Jay Leno and Kim Kardashian, along with major charities and corporate entitiesincluding Virgin, Dreamworks and Hollywood talent agencies.

The hypocrisy of the Sultan of Brunei is unnervingly unjust. The human rights violations of women and minorities, the stonings, beatings and loss of personal freedom, are tragic and barbarous. Join Honor Diaries, Jillian Lauren, Jay Leno, Ellen Degeneres and the community of Hollywood in protesting sharia law for the people of Brunei.

Learn more about Jillian’s story at Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and more about the abuses of the sharia honor system with Honor Diaries.



Honor Diaries is a movie and a movement meant to inspire viewers to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies and to act for change.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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