Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rape in Oman

THE IDENTITIES OF 3 of this blog's authors have been combined in places in order to protect privacy and identity. All the OPNO girls still feel safer in Oman than in any of the other Arab country(ies) they have previously visited and/or lived in. We also have to thank one of the bravest girls you'll ever meet, for writing the following introduction for this subject:

Let's begin with the personal: I am a 23 year old female British expatriate currently married to an Omani. I have never been raped in Oman.

But I have been sexually-molested by 2 Omani taxi drivers on two different occasions, and another OPNO girl whose tears I dried by a group of Pakistani/or/Indian men [she couldn't tell the difference in the moment] on a baiza bus [which I had previously thought were a safer option than the orange and white taxis] and my bestfriend who happens to be a Canadian was nearly abducted by an Omani man [not a taxi driver] in Barka just walking home from the local Lulu. You can call these near-misses. They could have wound up rapes if we had been less prepared or less lucky or less willing to fling ourselves out of moving vehicles and act like crazy witches with rocks.

Everyone out there is going... moral of this story is, no woman should ever take a taxi alone in Oman. Or walk home late at night by herself because that's just asking for trouble. But the moral of the story is a lot less moral than that.

To continue with perspective: In my native U.K. I was raped as a teenager.

I will never forget the traumatic event.

I was at a party for one of my friends. It was a house a grew up in, that I felt safe in. I wasn't drinking and the person who raped me wasn't drunk although pretty much everyone else there was. Which is what the rapist was waiting for I guess. When everyone else would not be able to help me or understand my cries for help.

To this day I don't know why he targeted me. There were a lot of other girls there that would have been a lot easier prey than me. They were drunk. I wasn't. Why me?

The question of "why me?" has haunted me for many years. What made me stand out? What made him choose me? Now I certainly never thought I was deserving of it like some victims do, but what made me appear weaker or more attractive than any other number of potential victims?

I don't like to describe the actual rape. It didn't really hurt me, thankfully, but it was about power. He had it and I was nothing, and I didn't know what would happen to me after. I knew who he was. I knew his name. He went to the same school as me.  His ugly presence will always be attached to me and I think he knew that and liked that more than anything else.

To this day I am not a touchey-feeley kind of person. Only with my own children, not even my husband. I blame the event of my rape for that. I don't know if the two things go together. I've never found therapy to be overly helpful.

I also never felt safe. I check behind shower curtains, always make sure I am seated to see everything and have an exit strategy from any room.

After it was over and he was "done" with me, I guess he never thought I'd say anything. But I did, and he served jail time. Still, his stay in jail was short compared to how long I will have to deal with issues of feeling powerless. I still don't feel that justice was done.

Other OPNO girls [from Canada, and USA] report similar situations in the native countries, with multiple attempted molestations, or near abductions but with very little aid from the police in doing anything about these matters. All of us OPNO girls have at least one close friend or family member who was raped.

In Oman, when we asked our Omani friends and family, no one knew of anyone personally who had been raped except through news stories.

Which I thought was weird. But then I thought about it a little more. So we asked housemaids.

They told us that 3 of their friends [Philipino housemaids] had been raped by Taxi drivers, one [Sri Lankan] housemaid was molested by a taxi, one little Omani girl in Sur was nearly abducted by a Pakistani man, and one [Idonesian] housemaid told us she had been raped when she worked in Saudi Arabia and in UAE. Alhamdulillah, in Oman she said: "I never have to take a taxi. My family are nice, and the men are good. And they drive me everywhere." In Saudi she was raped by one of her male employers, in UAE by a taxi driver from India.

My husband told me a story about the only rape incident he knew of where he knew the woman personally although he was not born when it happened: "In our village there was a man who was very handsome. There was this girl, who acted kind of slutty whenever he came around her. So he told her to meet him at his house. When she got there, the man she liked wasn't there, just a group of men. They all had sex with her. She moved away from our village after that." This story horrified me, because it showed that at least to the older generation, the fact that a girl wanted to have sex outside of marriage with one man, meant it was ok for anyone to force himself on her, and that she'd never report it, even if everyone knew about it.

Statistics say that in the U.K. alone say that between 75-95 percent of rapes go unreported ["Without Consent: A report on the joint-review of the investigation and prosecution of rape offences" Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate. January 2007. p. 8.].

I can only imagine if I had the same culture to deal with at the time of my traumatic event, or a foreign legal system to deal with, what other issues I might have had or not had to come forward.

The situation of rape in Oman, the statistics:
Apparently, according to the UN, the reported per-capita rapes in 2008 for Oman are 183 [ but the report made note that the list did not include unreported, unrecorded rape cases, and many countries included in the study did not specify between reported, brought to trial, or convicted so numbers do not reflect in the slightest the percentage of rapes that occur in Oman]. Also, many countries do not count the rape of its male citizens or children in rape statistics. Human Rights Groups and Basic Expat Advisory websites are 100% right on when they report that media coverage of rape in Oman is minimally reported. Whether this is at the request of those pursuing legal justice or just a matter of saving face, I am not qualified to make that assumption. In 2010, the Royal Oman Police charged 227 individuals with rape or attempted rape, which may clarify a smidgeon the 2008 basis for statistics generated.

The sentencing for rape in Oman is based on Oman's penal code, not Sharia Law [Sharia law requires a rapist be put to death]. The sentence for male-female rape should be between 5-15 years in prison, whereas male-male rape is up to 3 years as it is still something considered a taboo subject. Spousal rape is not considered a crime in Oman and the only recourse for a woman in this case is through male relatives and her own family. Sexual exploitation of children of any kind is punishable by 5-15 years jail sentences. Most of those charged with rape and minimal evidence are convicted and serve at least the minimum time. Which I will concede, is better than in countries like UAE, where rape cases with actual DNA evidence (i.e sperm) are dismissed with this kind of misogynist line: "These are considered evidence which are insufficient to confirm whether she was subject to any rape or body assault. Besides, the woman had lost her virginity a long time ago," . I only mention this UAE case, because one of the creeps who gang-raped this woman and got off free, was an Omani national. Other OPNO girls can tell you just how badly justice in UAE... sucks... if a local Emirati creep tries to have fun with you, even as a British, Canadian, or American citizen, let alone being a poorer woman with an embassy no one gives a flying hoot about.

The Human Rights Report from 2010 also states that housemaids who made rape charges were often repatriotized by their sponsors before the cases would be considered. Some sponsors were charged with rape, others apparently did not want to "deal" with the reputation of having a housemaid who had "gotten herself raped" by "going the wrong places". I don't think I would be wrong to think, that logically, the same case of persons in criminal cases in Oman not being allowed to leave the country  until the cases' proceedings are closed "such as in the case of fingering an f-you to the lame-o who cut you off on the highway" should also apply to rape victims, regardless of sponsorship???? I honestly can't imagine this happening to an English-girl here in Oman, but the 2010 Human Rights report did say this was an issue of concern, but that it had not been researched.

I knew a Philipino girl who decided to go to Rock Bottom night club. She met a seemingly nice Omani guy who offered to take her for a swim at Qantab. They'd both been drinking. He was mad at first that she'd gone all the way out there with him and didn't want sex. So he tried to rape her. She called our pre-Islam guy friends howling to be picked up from the side of the road with scratches all over her face, lucky as anything she'd gotten away and that the man was as drunk as he was so she'd managed that.

Don't get me wrong, my pre-Islam guy friends, Omani, Syrian, Jordanian, are great. They'd never hurt a woman except maybe break her heart. But when they picked her up, they were like, what can you expect?! The moral of the story is, don't trust guys. Don't go places with guys!" They took her to the ROP, but as far I know, the case never went to court.

Is that really the moral of the story? Or is that the immoral thing about it? That a woman should always know better?: or isn't it, that a man should always understand "no"?
From cases that I know have happened, rape statistics in Oman are actually a lot higher than reported to the ROP. I don't know of a single Omani woman (or most Omani men) who'd tell me she'd been raped because that's just the culture. In fact, a law was recently passed (but I cannot look it up in English and I am waiting for one of the other OPNO girls to get it for me) in Oman that hospitals are not required to report rape cases to the Royal Oman Police. [Added after posting: it was a notice sent by the ROP to hospitals in Arabic below]:

تعميم مكتوب ومختوم من الادعاء العام صدر عام 2009 وانتشر مؤخرا على مواقع الانترنت
مجمله انه الطبيب او احد المأمورين بـ الضبط القضائي غير ملزمين بـ الابلاغ عن ..

حالات الاغتصاب سواء اكان المعتدي عليها من اهلها او من دون
حالات الحمل بدون زواج سواء اكان المعتدي عليها من اهلها او من دون
حالات حمل المريضات عقليا سواء اكان المعتدي عليها من اهلها او من دون
حالات حمل واعتداء لمن يقل عمرهن دون الـ 15 سنه سواء اكان المعتدي عليها من
اهلها او من دون

This is supposedly to protect the rights of the victim to privacy.

Which is a lot of bull crap. It just contributes to the problem.

While few girls I know have been raped of Omani origin (mainly due to affluence, and the protection/confinement afforded by always moving in large groups of women or with a husband or father) many Omani men I know have. Maybe because I was a rape victim to they opened up to me?

One guy was attacked by an older boy in the shower when he was at school. Another, also as a child, by a male neighbor. Sadly, I and others have heard of many cases of unreported male-male child rape. Another Omani male, grown, by a taxi driver. Many more of my guy friends laugh about stories about where gay taxi drivers tried to grope them. It isn't a laughing matter but sometimes it is easier to laugh then to cry. They find it embarrassing.

Not one of these cases were ever reported.

Apparently that school shooting in Shinas, the father of a son who'd been raped reported the rape to ROP but it seemed nothing was being done, and so he got a gun and shot the rapist while the rapist was attending school. One of the OPNOs contributors can confirm this from the hospital where the rape victim was being treated.

I think the media has to have a greater role in issuing warnings and alerts when violent crimes like rape are committed and a monster is on the loose. Women need support groups that help them integrate back into society knowing what happened to them had nothing to do with them, and most certainly hospitals need to be legally required to report evidence of rape. Men need to realize that rape happens to them too, and be encouraged to report it without shame, to prevent future rapes, and society as a whole needs to realize sexless children and expat migrant women are usually the most vulnerable targets for predators. And do something to change that.

-From OPNO's editor:
I promise to keep on top of this subject and update this article as new information comes my way. Thank you to the girls, who don't mind me texting in the middle of the night.


The Duncan Adventures said...

Wow, what a powerful and hard hitting article about something that is so common here yet seems to be spoken about in whispers.

Hopefully this raises some awareness that groping, molesting and raping is not ok!

Personally I've had my own issues here in Oman with unwanted advances and inappropriate touching from men, being a white female these dudes normally just see white girls like us in sleazy dirty movies and assume that we are all like that. I could make assumptions about their nationality but I don't.. These people need to be educated!

Thanks for a great article.

ღPepperoniPizzaღ said...

And people wonder why I never let my son out of my sight -- the statistics of homosexual pedophelia in this region is disturbing... But they don't want us (foreigners) to talk about it. I tried to address this issue when that Saudi guy in the USA raped that American teenager at a Las Vegas hotel but my Twitter was spammed by Saudis and I was locked out LoL

It's seen as a shame and embarrassment for the victim, and these sick predators know that. I was so thankful when I read that the 4-year old Pakistani national who was raped in a masjid bathroom's rapist/killer had been executed by firing squad in the UAE. However, again i found it disturbing when the courts showed a history of this person involved with violent/forcible sex with minors -- how many victims of his are there?

The truth of the matter is DON'T LET YOUR CHILD OUT OF SIGHT EVER. Some call me paranoid or fear-mongoring but I'm sorry i have heard and read too many stories of little boys disappearing from outside of their houses and their bodies found a few days later burnt or hanging from a tree.

May God protect our children and curse those who prey on them.

Anonymous said...

Your blog piece is tame. I lived in OMAN for over 8 years. I evaded many assaults, except one. The police were not that helpful, and none of it was "officially' recorded by the police. I was not raped but stalked and physically assaulted and ran and screamed to safety. I was proactive in my self defense.

I had a police man in Oman, yes, Muscat, near the Main post office, try to lock me in his office or the station. I had only just stopped in to ask directions..and my car was running with the key in it outside the door. He got up and blocked the door. I used manipulation and control to get him to move. Not panick.

Men and boys are commonly raped. And even local boys, Omanis, are commonly raped in the all boys schools. Most Omanis won't discuss it. But some will.

As far as the sub continent employees and workers. Don't be nice to them and don't share rides with them. They are desperate beyond belief. You can fight back against them without repercussions though.

Rape and kidnapping, and assaults are a REAL reality to living in the Middle East in general. Don't believe women or men who tell you it's rare.

Be prepared, make homemade pepper spray, drive with a baseball bat in your car, don't hang out with local males alone, even just one. The local Omani girls would never get into a car with a male not a trusted family member. And if you an expat, they don't get are branded as 'easy or willing'.

Be realistic, be proactive and don't be a victim. Fight your attacker off.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Anon: The police have always been very helpful to us OPNO girls, but they never manage to deal with stalkers. Though the one time a police officer tried the same maneuver with a friend he got fired when the matter was taken to his superiors. They said he'd had history and tried this with other girls. Which police station were you in?

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Pepperoni Pizza: I won't even get into how bad male-to-male rape is in KSA among the Saudi population. I know thousands of stories there unfortunately.

Yeah, alhamdulilah for the Shariah punishment (when correctly enacted) for rape charges.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Duncan Adventures: I wish but I doubt it.

Yeah, sadly a lot of local guys and immigrant workers, view Western women as highly sexualized and up for anything sadly, due to education and straight out ignorance.

Aisha Blogs said...

You know rape is a real problem even in the US it's like one every15 min. and the police do very little they hold women's propety as "evidence" forcing the victim to drop the case in order to get their belongings back. Sexual images are everywhere keeping on the minds of those who need help. I say never go far alone and never talk with men outside the family, because as women we never accept how much men watch us etc. even in the work place you'll find a sico leaving a message. Perhaps its denial on our part regarding gender relations. It's always best to be safe than sorry and rape won't destroy you when you accept the strength that Allah has given you to survive and be stronger and more cautious. And the sick animal that rapes will get his on the day of Judgement and possibly in his grave to, because not a single thing goes unrecorded. May Allah protect and aid us in life. Thanks for sharing sorry about the long comment. :)

Anonymous said...

few issues i would like to add:
a) rape and subsequent marriage in locals
b) housemaid used sexually by sponsor his sons and their friends against her wishes and at no or minimal cost
c) housemaid who gets pregnant will have to leave the country or abandon the child in front of dustbins or hospital usually in a grocery carton
d) abortion not allowed hence lots of willing or forced sex leads to disaster
e) contraceptives are not allowed for unmarried woman or housemaid and therefore no protection even after assault or rape
f) issue of orphans is not given due attention
g) lots of issues are brushed under the rug by using the cover of religion culture conservative society etc etc

Boxie said...

This is one of the issues that effects all of the world sadly. The movies shown on MBC do tend to make western girls look easy and it does not help the the USA media and other media tends to glorifie women who are know for how little clothing they wear or who they have slept with or in what video. Seriously it's a compleat back step in women's rights. I have dealt with sexual harassment in Oman and thankfully it was dealt with. Though I know many women or men may not have been so lucky. I have also had a near miss in UAE where the guys in the shop slipped something into my drink. Luckily I changed my order from delivery to talk away. I think the only way things will get better is if harsher punishments are made, more talk about respecting women in Islam. They prophet would never condone this behaver and would not blam the women. I mean there is a hadth about him answering questions to a women who did not cover and one man there kept looking at her. He did not blame the women but gently moved the mans face to the side with his finger in an attempt to tell him not to staire. and one thing I can't stand from some women who only make things worse for victims is that they say "only proper hijab will protect you and they must not have been wearing hijab." Hijab protects your modesty but not from rape. If there is a sick man out there it does not matter what you are wearing. After all someone is most likely to be attract by someone they know, an acquaintance or a family member. Inshallah with enough education and open discussion things will chance for the better all over the world.

A Writer said...

I couldn't complete reading the whole thing. It's just too scary.. I am scared of going out now knowing there is a possibility that such thing can happen to me!!

ღPepperoniPizzaღ said...

Boxie is %100 right (unfortunately). Allah yster...

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Dear anon:
a. This isn't a factor in Oman. Maybe Afghanistan?
b. This is not allowed in Oman and is a crime.
c. Not true. Housemaids can keep their children but are unlikely to maintain sponsorship. If they choose to abandon their babies that is also a crime (dustbins ect.)
d. abortion up to a certain ammount time is allowed in Oman, or for medical reasons.
e. Contraceptives are allowed in any clinic in Oman, government or private for married or unmarried women. Culturally this is not allowed but condoms, birth control pills ect... are easily accessible if someone wants to get them. If the morning after pill is what you mean, clarify.
f. The orphans in Oman are totally cared for by the government, whether a parent was Omani or not.
g. If you mean sexual health, I'll agree with you. The rest of your comments were totally underinformed.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

AishaBlogs: Yes, rape statistics for the US are some of the highest globally. Oman's statistics are unrealistically low.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Anon: good advice, always be proactive. I guess that is because stalking isn't a crime here while rape is?

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Boxie: Agreed, 100%

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

A Writer: As they saying goes, "Trust in Allah but tie your camel". Knowing that rape can and does happen in Oman, just think about which places are safest to go if you go alone:)

Anonymous said...

I had big luck I was far from Oman but i was chatting with one Omani Arab man. I had baby that time and my husband away and he couldn't afford us. I used that how someone listed "predator" for sending me money..after he said me how much is his monthly salary. In my country it's very much. The amounts he sent me for him was nothing but for me and my baby enough to live well one month. So like this from 50 riyal to 100 riyal he sent me few months money regularly plus me pretending of loving him and "planning" to go to him. The time came when he was about to come to me I knew what he wants...just sex. I broke my sim card and changed my phone number. With money I saved I was able to rent a flat and go to my husband and solve everything for our future. .. Girls be wise... As you said they are sex-crazed men looking only for sex because they won't take non-virgin women..especially mothers.. I was wise and I don't regret what I have done because they deserve to be used as same they use women.

Amadis Daylaw said...

A friend of mine was a 14-year old boy at the time. He went out one day and innocently this boy offered him a ride on his motorcycle from the NIZWA SOUQ to his home. On the way, he went past the boy's home so the boy kept saying "STOP! I live here." Finally, when he did stop, there was a confrontation and he grabbed my little friend. My friend sped the scene and threw a rock at him. He was not raped but he could have been. The mother of this child was very afraid to press charges. Everyone at our school found out and they whispered it. It made me so angry, so very angry. Noone should have whispered it. It should have been screamed out loud. The mother claims that had she gone to the POLICE she probably would have lost her job. It is happening more and more here in OMAN. Be careful with your kids 24/7.

Amadis Daylaw said...

Nizwa in particular presents a problem as many taxis go from Lulu's to the Clock Tower in Muscat. My friend used to use this service but she had to stop. All taxi drivers tried to touch her. She'd always ride in the front as to not sit with the men in the back but then it is the driver who takes advantage. One night on the way to Muscat, the 3 men in the back got off and the taxi driver got off the highway and into a village, everything was dark. My friend was half-asleep in the front seat. When she woke up she did not realize she was in the middle of nowhere. She was very lucky. She threw herself out of the taxi and started to scream. Luckily a family saw her and came to her rescue. She wanted to press charges but the family kept saying that it was too dangerous and that the police would not believe her. She had to drop the issue but she never again took a taxi in Oman. Ladies...beware...taxis in Oman are highly unsafe.