17/05/2004

Injustice for women is the law of the land

BY AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
Published: 17 May 2004

It really is a national disgrace that an MP can literally walk away from serious criminal charges - thanks to a law which grants him immunity.

How long will this farce go on? What do we tell all those women out there about democracy and upholding the civil rights of individuals, when women cannot speak up about being harassed by men in power.

A Syrian woman has been wronged - just because she did not have the backing of the law. Perhaps, if it was another woman with a social standing and the backing of an influential family, the case may have differed.

Her case against an MP, accused of pestering her for sex and making lewd suggestions was thrown out of the Lower Criminal Court - because he has immunity.

Do you know how difficult it is for a woman - any woman - to stand up for her rights in this society, which is controlled by men who indulge in their own petty, selfish, embarrassing pleasures?

I am sure that this woman thought a million times before speaking to anyone about the harassment she has allegedly endured from this respectable MP. She then had to go through the humiliation of explaining to one man after the other about how he fondled himself in front of her. She had to re-tell the story and re-live the horror and shame over and over again.

When the case went to court, she finally took a breath of relief. Justice will be seen to be done at last. But she sure was wrong.

Let's just look at the hundreds of cases in court involving women for a proper definition of the word justice.

Back to our respectable MP. How could a 47-year-old man be elected to public office despite being accused of fondling himself in front of a woman, repeatedly pestering her for sex and making lewd suggestions on a number of occasions.

How could he be let off the hook, just because he has become an MP since it all allegedly happened in 2001.

Why hasn't Parliament met and discussed lifting his immunity in a session and passed a decision on it?

Isn't this part of the democratic process we have been churning out front page after front page on?

Or is the role of MPs, who promised their constituents 101 things before their election, restricted today to flexing their muscles at the government?

Next time I am in parliament, I wouldn't want to cross paths with this MP nor with all the others who covered up for him and brushed away this woman's complaints, just because she was a woman.

Had he not been an MP, what would the punishment have been like?

I will recount to you a personal horror story which happened to me and my sister one night not in the too far past.

We were chased by five Saudi thugs, who pulled my sister out of the car and started hitting and biting her. When passers-by stopped to rescue her, they escaped. We filed a case at the Hoora Police Station, the culprits were arrested, rushed through court on a Thursday and released on BD 40bail each.

The follow-up to the case? My lawyer cannot do anything because the case papers have disappeared.

Will anyone respond to my queries and complaints for justice? No.

Me, my sister, the Syrian woman and all the other women out there should just swallow their humiliation and accept the fact that if they want to live, go out, drive, go to college or go shopping, they have to put up with harassment and shut up.

There is no one to hear their complaints and no one to stand up for them. Bravo, Bahrain. Welcome to the new era of democracy and reform.

Comments

Here's the link to Mahmood's article with comments on my article:

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