Vol XXVIII NO. 99 Monday 27th June 2005
By Amira Al Hussaini
A woman is kidnapped from the street, literally wrenched from her husband's grasp. Thugs pull a girl from a car and attack her in front of other passers-by, ripping her clothes, punching, kicking and biting her.
A student is gang-raped and a 12-year-old girl vanishes, with no trace even three years on.
Armed robberies in broad daylight, illegal drugs bought and sold, drive-by bag snatches and muggings almost every day.
New York? No, welcome to Bahrain - once a peaceful oasis in the Gulf, where people used to leave their cars and front doors open and go to sleep free of the fear of crime.
Rising crime is a reality in this modern age and a threat to the national security, economy and overall development of any country.
It doesn't take a genius to figure this out, just as it doesn't take a wizard to realise that something must be done if we are to be able to sleep in peace again.
My aunt's house was robbed a couple of years ago. The thief drove his car into her garage and emptied her house - stealing everything, right down to perfume and anti-wrinkle cream.
It was obvious he was comfortable in the knowledge that should he be caught, there wouldn't be much done to him.
It was evident that he was not afraid, not worried, not the least concerned about society's protective shield - its police force.
Every day people approach us with complaints about crime and when we ask them whether they have been to the police, they shrug their shoulders and ask: "What for, what will they do?"
It is a sad state of affairs when those men in uniform no longer have the respect the job demands, as the protectors and guardians of society from all the ugly faces of harm.
There is now talk about increasing the number of policemen to combat crime. That might be a short-term solution.
But the truth is that no matter how many times you increase the size of the police force, there is very little that can be done to reform people bent on breaking the law.
For in order to obey it, they must first respect it.
Even decent people will not help the police, if they do not respect them.
So the police must now fight on two fronts, to combat crime on one and to win the respect of the community on the other.
It is high time we stopped beating around the bush and got to the crux of it.
For the sake of Bahrain, for a better tomorrow, for a safe haven for our children, please bring back respect for the law - and the men who should enforce it.
Vol XXVIII NO. 97 Saturday 25th June 2005
By Amira Al Hussaini
It is a time of national celebration as thousands of graduates take a bow, with girls outsmarting boys once again in the secondary school examinations and showing the world the true mettle of Bahraini women. This year, 375 girls scored over 95 per cent, compared to 94 boys, showing that girls are at least four times better than the 'superior' male sub-species.
You can't imagine the size of the smile on my face when the results were announced.
They have even managed to bring tears to my eyes - for I am both happy and sad that more girls are realising the importance of being a step ahead of boys, who take a lot for granted in this society just because of their gender.
To be fair though, almost twice as many girls sat the exams - 3,990 girls compared to 2,178 boys - and although the reason for this beats me, it still makes me feel uneasy.
Without going deep into the figures, which I am not in a position to decode, they make me shudder every time I wonder that if there are really more smart girls and even fewer less-than-average boys around, what will the Bahrain of tomorrow be like?
Will we have less than average bozos bossing smarter women around? Will women accept a situation like this? And because there are fewer boys than girls, will girls accept sharing their better halves with other women?
The truth is, we don't have to look into the future to answer those questions.
A look at our present gives us the picture, for less-than-average bozos are already bossing smarter women around.
Women are accepting the situation because there isn't a legal framework nor a family law to protect them from abuse.
And, like it or not, smart women are forced to share the same men because they feel that such a rare species as "acceptable" men are getting fewer and harder to find by the day.
I really don't want to dampen the spirit of the celebrations in almost every home I know of, with young bright women making a mark and planning for a future where they know they should be superior.
I don't want to sound like Dr Doom, but the truth is that those figures mean nothing in a society still shackled by age-old traditions,which discriminate against girls just because they are smarter and more dedicated to their chores.
Unless things change drastically over the next few years and legislation is imposed from above to protect women's and family rights, I am afraid all our collective efforts to improve our lot as women and ensure that we serve our families and society in a befitting manner, will go to waste.
Vol XXVIII NO. 95 Thursday 23 June 2005
BY AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
II have had it with people who only want to see their photographs in the newspaper, whether they deserve the coverage or not. I am disgusted by some who pretend to be champions of noble causes, when all they really want is to promote their shallow selves and get some free publicity out of their sorry attempts to provide shoddy services to society.
In my career, some of my most stressful experiences have been with such publicity-seekers, who believe in their own lies and fall prey to their own propaganda.
On the one hand, they are actually doing something and as such this warrants the publicity they get. On the other, they give us so much grief and push the limits just to have their events covered and their pictures plastered all over newspaper pages - even when we know that the motives strip their attempts of any decency.
There are people who will leave no stone unturned, resorting to everything from sweet talking to threats, for some self-publicity.
I wish I had the courage to publish their photographs here and name and shame them, for the heartache they have given me over the years excuses such an extreme measure.
It is so sad to see people who are supposedly working to serve the community, eat at each other's flesh and back stab each other for no reason other than to climb the social ladder and be the centrepiece of events.
I don't know what is more sad, their total lack of understanding of the concept of community service, or their constant struggle to out do each other in being the centre of attention - even when their attempts are ridiculous, petty and embarrassing to say the least.
No matter how many times I have encountered these hollow people who try to impose themselves on the social scene, they still continue to give me the creeps.
I still can't get them out of my mind and can't bring myself to try and understand this concentrated level of malignant narcissism, especially when I see many people working silently every day to bring humanity, dignity and respect back to voluntary work.
There are several examples of people who have worked in silence to help others and bring a quality to their lives, while refusing the publicity which others take for granted for their noble deeds.
Two immediately spring to mind. One is an Indian businessman who covered the expense of a cornea transplant to save a Bahraini woman from blindness.
The other is a local company which is without fanfare footing the bill to treat Baby Khadija Ali Radhi, whose plight was reported in the GDN, for a rare disfiguring disease..
Vol XXVIII NO. 83 Saturday 11 June 2005
By Amira Al Hussaini
Why is it that we have to keep up with the Jones' in everything we do?
Can someone explain to me why Bahrain is a nation in debt, with BD1 billion outstanding in personal bank loans?
The question here is how much of this money is the size of the actual debt and how much is interest incurred by unscrupulous banks, who try to sell poor people castles in the clouds?
Also, how much of this money actually went on necessities and how much more was spent on luxuries, from cars to expensive, sprawling homes, honeymoons and holidays to exotic locations, lavish weddings and education and treatment abroad?
I personally hang up on salesmen who call asking me if I want yet another credit card, or up to 20 times my salary in personal loans, with no questions asked.
I don't need to even think about it because I know that I don't want to get sucked into a vicious circle which will tighten a noose around my neck and make me regret every fil I borrowed, once the creditors come knocking on my door.
If I regret anything, it may be the rude way I attack those salesmen, who are probably working to pay off loans themselves.
People have the right to dream and fulfil their aspirations, but taking loans to make those dreams come true is like sinking into an abyss.
I know people who are scraping the floor to make ends meet and to pay those parasitical banks their loans, topped by an interest very close to the amount they borrowed, just because they wanted to show off with a flashy car and enjoy the perks of a first-class holiday.
My heart breaks every time I see a young couple borrowing money to start their lives and I wonder who really is behind this debt culture, which is reducing people to slaves, who work and toil all day just to pay off ridiculous interest rates.
I know that waiting to achieve a dream is difficult and not many people have patience, especially when advertisements for personal loans are so tempting and are now seen on billboards in the streets.
They even intrude into your privacy in the form of SMS messages on your mobile, whetting your appetite and making you drool for what you can have instantly in exchange for a cut of your income forever after.
Loans may be an easy solution for a sticky problem which is available over the counter without the need for a prescription.
But they are a hard pill to swallow and will impose dire consequences on a young nation, which will be shackled for years paying the price of what they enjoyed for only a few hours, days or months at the most.
Vol XXVIII NO. 80 Wednesday 8 June 2005
BY AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
There is so much to thank God for this morning. The MPs finally have a reason to gloat. You see, I strongly believe in justice and it is only right that when someone pushes for something correct for a change, he gets rewarded.
Thanks to the MPs' persistence, combined with threats of angry protesters pelting the National Assembly with eggs and tomatoes, the government has finally bowed to pressure and agreed to do the right thing.
Giving government staff their rightful bonus should be taken for granted and not be a smelly fish dangled in front of thousands of hungry mouths, or used as a means for political pressure and extorting more from the government.
The fact that it is a one-off BD200 bonus, which will cost the government BD12 million, is scary though, because I strongly believe that not all civil servants deserve to be rewarded for doing nothing.
For instance, government workers on salaries of no more than BD800 a month, yet who live in lavish homes, whose children go to private schools, who spend their holidays in Europe and drive to their humble jobs in top-of-the-range cars, already take their annual or even monthly 'bonuses' - with or without the blessings of the MPS.
I hope they will do the right thing and donate the BD200, once it has been credited to their accounts in a legal manner, to charity.
I get angry every time I walk into a government organisation.
My pressure rises from the moment I step into the smelly foyer and walk up to the dirty elevators, or the smoke-filled staircases.
On my way to my final destination, my blood boils as I pass by near-empty offices, with staff either flirting on the phone, praying, off sick or have gone out to run errands for their families or private businesses.
While bonuses have become the norm in many companies and organisations - even in Bahrain where bosses are known to skimp and not share the spoils with their slaves - I don't think that everyone deserves them.
They should be given to those who work, who turn up on time, who serve their nation and who respect themselves and their jobs. I know this won't be possible here because there can't be a system of checks and balances to ensure a fair deal for deserving employees.
And I know that instead of grumbling, I should be thankful that it will be given to all equally - including women.