Friday, June 6, 2014

Is anything ever going to change?

Once again I open the GDN to read an unbelievable story about sexual abuse and the leniency the Bahrain Courts have when punishing perpetrators. A 15 year old and his uncle beat, raped, and filmed themselves while doing it because the man was engaged in a relationship with the 15 year olds mother. His words were, she was having a relationship “behind his back”. Since when do mothers need their children’s permission to have relationships? She is divorced and free, right? Ok let us make the poor excuse that this is an Arab country and so the mother needs her son’s permission to have a relationship (this is still Bahrain and not Saudi, right?), why did those two feel that a beating and rape while filming it was the correct course of action to take in order to bring this relationship to an end? The son claims it was his right to “honor beat” the man. Honor beat? Once again, what country is this? Since when did using the word “honor” become an acceptable excuse for beating and raping someone anywhere in the world but specifically Bahrain? I have lived here over 22 years and have never heard that word used as justification in court before. Is a new trend in extremism coming to Bahrain? Do residents here now have to fear that at any moment an attack will ensue based on “honor”? Not only that but your day in court will be little more than another assault against you as the judge will view your beating and rape as merely an inconvenience to you because the defendant had to restore his family honor one way or another?  In all the years I have lived in Bahrain one of the constants that has never changed are the atrociously low sentences  (or slap on the wrists if you will) that child molesters and rapists earn for doing the most despicable thing one can do to another, much less a child. Not only did these men confess to what they did in court, it is obvious that they are dangerous men who use extreme measures to deal with their issues. What excuse will the courts give them when they show up once again having done something similar to some other victim (maybe the mother next time, in defense of honor) because human beings generally show you who they are but we often ignore it and assume the best in them.  If I were someone considering coming to Bahrain for work or travel and I read the local newspapers as a way to gauge what sort of country Bahrain was, imagine my thoughts when reading that expats might not be able to drive for much longer, that car accidents due to extremely poor and aggressive driving are a daily occurrence, that if your nationality is not the “right” one you may be treated as less than either physically, financially, or humanely, that animals are often abused and considered disposable, that beaches are garbage dump sites, that elected officials in this country spend copious amounts of time doing nothing more than coming up with ways to waste both time and money,  and that, worst of all, sexual crime is not a big deal and treated lightly by the Bahrain Court system. The Bahrain government has spent a lot of money and effort in convincing the rest of the world that everything is fine here in order to get tourists and business back on board after events over the past couple of years and yet for anyone that has even the smallest interest in coming to Bahrain, all that effort is wasted with just a few minutes spent reading a local newspaper. All the money in the world and the best P.R. firm cannot undo that kind of damage.