http://www.y-oman.com/2013/05/maid-to-suffer/. Andy in Oman already re-posted the story and I commented on Y's webpage, for which I received some flack.
Ethiopians are particularly vulnerable, due to the fact that they lack help in Oman from their Embassies/Consulates should something go wrong with their employers. The article highlights the brutal rape and attempted murder of one poor young woman. The story is horrifying and the article good. Oman lacks women's shelters for the most even for Omani women and I have always been active about this in a personal way, but something has to be done more publically I think to raise awareness and provide a means of care for women in bad situations. Also, laws concerning punishment for those who commit such crimes needs to be harsh (or at the very least meted out).
That is my first thought about the story. My secondary thought though is the use of the photo for the article, to which I wrote into Y magazine the following:
"While I disapprove beyond measure your choice to run a photograph of a woman covering her face, further contributing to the stereotype that Muslim women and veiled women are suppressed and abused, this topic [maid abuse] touches me deeply. I have known and been friends with many housemaids in Oman, and when anyone one of them has not been given their legal rights, my legal course to help them has always enraged me." I went on to say what I think should be done or what the magazine could focus on next in terms of women's shelters ect....
To which I received a comment via Andy's post saying: "Glad to see that you've got your priorities straight. Sheesh, that raping young girls is bad but that what really bothers you is "stereotyping" women who cover their faces."
a. not what I said at all.
b. something that needs to be said in addition to actions taken against preventing rape and helping defenseless young women.
I was nearly raped because I chose (for my religious beliefs) to wear a face veil. Why? Because of the stereotypes that Muslim women are a. stupid, b. abused by men, c. sexual objects for men's control, and d. suppressed. People thought/think they had the right to tell me what to believe and wear and if I wasn't like other women then I chose to make myself sub-human to them. If someone becomes sub-human then it is easy for abuses against them to happen. Stereotypes enforce this and the magazine, either knowingly or accidently contributed to that stereotype by using a photograph of a veiled woman in an article about rape, abuse and suppression.
I cannot support that, despite supporting the article itself.
I find it further, more irritating, because I have never ever met a housemaid in Oman who wore the face veil. Headscarf maybe, but niqab or face veiling, never. The majority of Ethiopian housemaids in Oman are actually Christian, and wouldn't otherwise wear hijab (headscarf) normally outside of their agreement with the maid agency of employer. The article also contained two photographs, one unveiled and one veiled of the same woman. The covering of the face does not represent suppression, rape victims, or the experience of Ethiopian housemaids so I questioned the choice to run with that. I know there ARE Muslim Ethiopian niqabis out there, but definitely the minority and I have yet to meet one working IN Oman as a housemaid.
The fact that I question the use of the photograph does not mean I do not support full rights for employees in Oman, or think a woman getting raped is less of an issue than a photograph. But the fact that the photograph was used as a header for an article about rape, oppression and abuse of my fellow women, affects my life negatively, giving people the wrong image of the face veil, and helping rape victims or oppressed employees with nothing towards the reality of their situation.