Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Guarding Your Sons from Rape in Government Schools in Oman and the GCC

This post may be a bit sensitive.  I don't really care. Something has to change.

It is about guarding your sons from rape in government schools in Oman (and the GCC in general)---the problem is worse in Saudi Arabia and UAE from stories I have heard from my friends whose sons's attended schools in those countries. It is a problem in all GCC countries, and not just Oman.

You may recall that school shooting that happened in Shinas? If no, well an Omani father shot the student who had raped his son. I had written before too, that the thought of that happening to any kid and no proper punishment being carried out for the act kind of makes me want to react that way too.

The other day I heard of a boy of mixed heritage attending one Muscat school. He was held up after school by older boys for exactly that purpose. Male teachers who arrive early and stay late after school, and check the washrooms and behind doors very carefully, along with security cameras, are means to prevent this, sure, but when I think of it, why is this level heroism on the part of teachers a requirement of male teachers to begin with? Why aren't schools being made more safe? What is causing the issue, and what is being done about it?

I interviewed one teacher . "What is done with these boys [the rapists] after you know they are guilty?'

"The ones we know attempt rape but haven't succeeded, we as teachers watch them very carefully. The ones who do get caught, we send them away to a far away school," he tells me. "It is to punish the family, so they like the boy [rapist] less, since they will have to rent far away and spend money on his part and it will cause them hardship, and the idea is they will punish him as a result of the hardship he has caused them."

"Isn't that a little bit more like sweeping the crime under the rug, trying to forget about it?"

He shrugs sorrowfully.

It isn't his fault.

He is just a teacher, what can he do? Recent protests over the roles and responsibilities of teachers needing to be clarified were not fully addressed to date. The Shinas shooting is remembered.

"What would you do if it were your kid?" I pressed him further, enraged myself.

"I'd do the same," he tells me, referring to the father responsible for the shooting in Shinas.

"Do the parents at the new school where the rapist is sent----are they informed so they can protect their children?"

"No," my interviewee tells me.

"What about the teachers and directors of the new school?" I ask, stricken with an urge to go to these new schools with faces of the rapist-boys printed out on fliers to circulate about crime to hand out to students and their parents after school, which would be illegal in Oman---I guess. I could wear a mask, so no one knows it was me. Once the fliers were out it would be too late.....

"No, nothing," my interviewee confides. "But we as teachers, should phone them personally, if we care enough. .

..But is that within our legal rights? Or is it a crime here.....of 'slander'."

No one knows.

So how do you protect your children?

"The only way to really protect your children is to have these boys who have been victims of rape come forward, press charges with the ROP, and society make it less of a shame. Shaming the rapist through hardship on their families does not work. The shame is still on the victims. It isn't enough. Not enough is being done. All that we can do is stay late, check behind doors, guard the bathrooms, listen."

I came from a mixed sex school myself. Rape isn't a general issue in mixed sex schools. Either is sex IN the school itself.

Although my interviewee is culturally conservative, he conceeds this is somewhat true. For example, at Sultan Qaboos University, a mixed sex institution, rape isn't an issue that is hiding, lurking, ever-present but unspoken about.

Despite this theory of mine hardly being studied, I believe Islam as a religion provides for the sexes to meet in public spaces for the mutual benefit of contribution to society. Only private spaces is forbidden in the religion as practiced by the Prophet Mohammed S.A.W. .

There are some mixed schools, the government-boys-school teacher tells me. He didn't know of rape incidents occuring there. But he did know, another problem emerges of male Omani teachers having relations (consentual) with their female Omani students.

"This is illegal in my country. You can't date your students, EVER, and additionally, anyone underage without the consent of their legal guardian," I tell him.

"It is not allowed here either, unless the family of the girl wants her to marry her teacher," he goes on to explain.

"What happens if a teacher is found to be having relations with a female student without the consent of her family?" I ask him.

A similar and disturbing pattern emerges.

"Then that teacher is sent, far away, to another school. Or maybe promoted to an adminstrative position, away from students, better than that of a normal teacher."

"Are the other teachers and director in the new school informed about the past behaviour of this immoral teacher?"

"Not usally, and only informally," my interviewee informs me. "So promotion is better, but is it fair to the other teachers? No. Is it fair to the students? No."

Besides actually having a correctional school, no other suggestions of solutions emerges between the two of us, as we casually discuss in disgust the situation, based on the current laws of the Sultanate of Oman, or the policies of the Ministry of Education.

{If anyone wants to translate this into Arabic and send it back to me to add to my post, I will}.


LivingInTheMiddleEast said...

I have been to the Gulf and all this is common. I still don't understand and thought well maybe they don't want to take the innocence of a little girl but I think it just boils down to the fact that men and women are segregated therefore a little boy might be a easier target. Either way one of my male friends was offered a little boy from Pakistan from a taxi driver. This whole thing is sad.

Anonymous said...

Eww very disturbing and scary!!

Can you make a post about how Ethiopians are treated in Oman? How they are viewed,specifically the women

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

Living in the MiddleEast: so sad:(

Anon: I could but it wouldn't be a long one. All the Ethipian housemaids I know are treated well. And new ones can't come over from Ehtiopia anymore, government cancelled them as a labour allowed to come over (i.e from Ethiopia).

But if you mean stereo-type things I could say that about any housemaids things I have heard others say from other GCC countries and occasionally oman:

Indonesians are slutty. The worst of all housemaids when it comes to sleeping around.

Ethiopians may kill your children and are dirty and lazy and steal..

Indians, you have to be mean to them or they won't respect you, and they can be slutty and steal.

Sri Lankans might steal or sleep around.

Philipinos you have to be mean to or they'll be the worst housemaids, you shouldn't let them have cellphones, and they gossip, and wear tight clothes, and date if they can.

That's pretty much the garbage.

Anonymous said...

Allah will protect you you spoke the truth and you open people's mind well done Women, I came to Oman to see the country it's so beautiful MashaAllah! But since I've been here I had story about young girls and boys been rape and killed I hope this will stop! Some homosexual start from people family as well uncles rape young boys or abuse there kids in sexual ways but they hide in the family this is not nice we need to speak up about this it need to stop ! Ahmed.

Anonymous said...

So in other words it is safe?
I always found Oman to be beautiful but i was slightly afraid of living in the gulf since i have heard some horror stories.

Thank you for the quick response :)
Love your blog xxx ciao

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog so just reading through a few posts and am actually shocked by the such un-islamic acts happening in an Islamic country...living in the UK myself I naively think of the middle east-uae, saudi etc to be flourishing with islam and all it teaches...and dream of the life there although born and bread in the UK i love my country and don't really have any complaints with how its run.... prostitutes+night clubs in islamic countries :O are the night clubs not illegal there??
I always admired life there and would have considered marrying a middle east national had I ever had the opportunity (not had it as of yet lol) but I think I've changed my mind now lol
Great job with the blog btw...hope your having a brilliant Ramadan!