Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blaming the Victim.


Ok, here's another hot button issue that Dubai has me mental about: women who go to the police claiming that they were raped, and then end up BEHIND BARS themselves.

There are 2 news stories on this subject in the papers right now:

First, there's the 18-year-old Emirati girl (Emiratis, you recall, are the "nationals" here who are granted privileged status but are also held to high social standards) who alleges that she was gang-raped by her boyfriend and 5 of his friends in the back of a car. The prosecution charged the 6 boys (4 of whom are Emirati, all of whom are 19) with rape, in part due to the evidence of physical assault that was produced by the woman having undergone tests at the Forensics Unit of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.

The defense refuted the charge of gang rape and alleged that the woman had consensual sex with her boyfriend (sex outside of marriage).

Yesterday, with no reason given, the woman went to court and requested that all of her accusations against the defendants be withdrawn.

The charge against *her*, meanwhile, still stands.

According to our newspaper, The National:

"If the prosecution drops the charge of consensual sex, the woman could face a lesser charge related to DECEPTION, which is punishable by SIX MONTHS TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON.

"If found guilty of consensual sex, as a Muslim woman, she would face LASHES and A MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF LIFE IN PRISON."

[emphasis mine, obviously.]

I'll pause for a second to allow that to sink in: Theoretically, an 18-year-old has consensual sex with her boyfriend, who then allows 5 of his friends to come by and gang rape her. She is pressured into dropping the charges... at which point the 6 men go free... while the 18-year-old woman is subjected to LASHES (what century is this??) followed by


This honestly-- and again, with all due respect-- BOGGLES MY MIND. Could this really be the law of the land I'm living in?

The second news story accompanies the "CABBIE TELLS OF SEDUCTION" headline above. Here, a 24-year-old British woman claims that she was raped in the back seat of a taxi at 4:00 in the morning by the 47-year-old Pakistani cab driver.

The driver's defense is summarized by the first sentence of the article:

"A drunken partygoer allegedly seduced a Dubai taxi driver by ripping off her clothes in his cab and then having sex with him on the back seat."

Adding insult to injury, today that same newspaper published *this* reader's letter:

"I am appalled by the article 'Cabbie Tells of Seduction' and feel there are too many unanswered questions about this case. For example, why did she not have the money to pay for the taxi? Did she feel she was above paying? Why did she not have a key to get into her house? She sounds like a spoilt woman acting like a teenager. She was 24 what did she expect. I am fed up with females who behave badly and their excuse is because they had too much to drink.

My sympathy goes to her parents. My plea though is for the cabbie. Please please listen to what he has to say. Let's have equal justice.

[Signed,] Female Brit"

Arghhhhhhh, I don't even know where to begin. Never mind that this letter was ostensibly written by a fellow British female; did I seriously just read the words, "what did she expect"?? I mean, let's say that the driver is in part telling the truth, and that a completely *WASTED* British girl got into the back of his cab and took off her clothes... In what universe does that constitute CONSENT?

The Dubai universe??

It's a sad commentary that I wouldn't be at *all* surprised if some Dubai court finds this 24-year-old woman guilty of having consensual sex outside of marriage. With an almost-5o-year-old taxi driver she didn't know. And tosses her in jail. But lets the poor, *violated* taxi driver walk.

Bet she's just thanking her lucky stars that she's not "a Muslim woman" right about now.

It's all a bit of madness, no?

* * * * * *

JUNE 15, 2010 *UPDATE*:

Saw it in the paper this morning: Yup, the 18-year-old woman from the first news story is being locked up for one year.

The crime? "Illegal sex."

Well, I guess she should be grateful. Very likely gang raped by 6 men, and she gets only a single year in jail. No lashings or anything!

All things considered, it's actually a bargain.


This School Exercise is Rated PG-13.

Actual conversation that took place between my 5-year-old and me as we were walking out of her school this afternoon:

ME: So how was school?

5-year-old: Good.

ME: What did you do?

5YO: We had a lockdown.

ME: [stopping in tracks and getting down to face kid] What?

5YO: We had a lockdown. But it was only a practice one.

ME: [incapable of disguising the horrified expression on my face] Are you kidding me? WHY did you have a lockdown?

5YO: In case any bad guys came to the school. We practiced lying on the floor so if the bad guys came looking for us, it would look like no one was there. [happily resumes walking to the car]

ME: [horrified, horrified, horrified.]

Um.... does this happen in schools in the USA and I just don't know about it? Because I have to tell you, the idea of my child being taught to lie on the ground, "in case bad guys came looking for her," makes me incredibly anxious. Aren't we still supposed to be lying to our children when they're 5 years old, and telling them that the world is a happy place? Don't we all follow the party line that "bad guys" are just make-believe characters in movies?

More importantly: is the concept of a "lockdown drill" a factor of our living in the often-volatile Middle East, or is it simply a part of the post-Columbine world??

Either way... UGH.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Slight Contradiction...

Um, I can't hold Daddy's hand while walking through the mall (there's a sign at the entrance forbidding public displays of affection)...

but you can display *this* in the store window?

REALLY, Dubai?