Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Rape in Kuwait (2)

There seem to be some misconceptions running around about rape in Kuwait. One misconception is that Kuwaitis commit a lot of rape. If you read the newspapers, however, you will discover that a lot of the rapes committed are nationality on nationality, for example, one senior Phillipina lady will befriend an unhappy domestic worker, will “help” her get away, and the domestic finds herself abducted, gang raped and in sexual slavery. That’s one common story.

Domestics of all nationalities are abducted off the streets, taken to apartments or villas, raped repeatedly by two or more men, and then dropped off on the street (or dropped off a balcony). People don’t seem to be very concerned about domestic servants being people here, having the right NOT to be raped, it sort of seems like business as usual, no matter who is raped or doing the raping. I have yet to read of one single case being prosecuted or sentenced in the Kuwait newspapers, but maybe I missed a day or two.

Another common story is Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani on Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani, and that can be men abducting/raping men, or men abducting/raping women. Some of these women are also recruited into prostitution, and are found when the police raid the dens of iniquity, catching the men and men or men and women in “uncompromising” positions, or, even better – RED HANDED!

There is a whole catagory of abductions – Kuwaiti, Bedoun or other Gulf or Arab nationality where a man or woman, or men or women, is/are abducted and taken to camps in the desert and raped multiple times. Sometimes they are left naked by the side of the road. Sometimes their dead bodies are found, and occasionally enough clues to guess at the identity of the abductors/rapists.

Then there are the men that rape children. It can be within a family. It can be within a building. It can be within a neighborhood. Many times the child knows the rapist, and is told that if they say anything, the rapist will kill or harm the child’s parents. There was an epidemic of child rape in Hawali, and although the man arrested cries “I didn’t do it!” the fact is that the epidemic of rape in Hawali has stopped. That doesn’t mean that children aren’t being raped, it just means that the Hawali Monster seems to be off the streets of Hawali.

Objectively, if there can be said to be a “good” thing about rape in Kuwait, it is that so few of them are fatal.

What can, accurately, be said about Kuwait is that there seems to be a lot of rape. If you think I exaggerate, I challenge you to read the Kuwait papers every day for a month.

When there is a lot of rape, it means there is a social, legal and political climate that tolerates rape. It means that rape cases are not handled with a lot of attention to gathering evidence. It means that men and women are not encouraged to persue rape charges. It means that the police are not very interested in investigating accusations of rape. It means that the legal system is not very interested in prosecuting rape. It means that the rape victims are not valued highly enough to deserve not to be raped.

Rape happens everywhere. Rape happens in wars, rape happens on the streets. In most places, we are taught, rape isn’t about sex as much as it is about power. Here, in Kuwait, I am inclined to think it may be a little bit of both.

I’ve worked with rape victims in several different locations. Working with the victims gives you so much admiration for women, what they endure, what they survive, and their deeply ingrained sense of priorities and self. You’d think the experience would be devastating, but the women who have experienced rape and overcome it have been anything but devastated – many of them become truly awesome individuals, literally, awe-inspiring. They refuse to be victims. They carry on with their lives. They accomplish. They let their anger fuel and energize them to become incredibly accomplished individuals. It isn’t surprising – wealth and accomplishment also give you additional protection against it ever happening again.

There is another tragedy in Kuwait – male rapes. When men rape another men, like in prison, it is very much a power thing. Me big – you little. Me do what I want with you. Most of the victims I have met, or heard about are young teens. Being raped by a bigger, older male really skews their lives. They begin to question what it was about themself that got them raped, they question whether maybe they are gay and don’t know it, they ask, over and over – Why ME? Young men who were good at school start getting bad grades, they can’t concentrate, they often turn to drugs.

Being forced to have sex, whether you are man, woman, or child, is wrong. And doing nothing to stop this epidemic is also wrong. To look the other way is wrong. To say it isn’t happening is wrong. To become so used to it that your heart becomes calloused is just plain wrong.

I know most of the time my blog is a nice place to visit, and these entries make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. I myself am so uncomfortable that, as Martin Luther said (only he said it in German) “I cannot other. God help me.”

September 6, 2007 Posted by | Community, Counter-terrorism, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Social Issues, Uncategorized, Women's Issues | 44 Comments

One Year Today


(Photo above from a very cool website called Coolest Birthday Cakes.Com. Oops, no, it is not the 50th anniversary of this blog, only the 1st, but I love the cake!)

One year ago today, I gathered up every fragment of courage I could find and joined the blogging world. You can’t imagine how nervous I was. I had a lot to learn about WordPress to start, it was a steep learning curve.

I had done my homework. When moving to Kuwait, I discovered the information-rich world of blogs, and while trying to figure out what life in Kuwait might be like, also discovered several women bloggers I really liked: The Queen of Kuwaiti Bloggers Jewaira, a highly literate and often cleverly funny Alflaila / Zin / 1001 Nights, and a bravly funny MiYaFuSHi. Ladies, what I liked the very best about your blogs was that when I would go to the comments sections, I would learn all kinds of things, things I didn’t even know I didn’t know!

And the men – Don Veto(he has a sharp eye for inconsistencies), Hilaliya a Third Culture Kid with an entertainment/political/social issues blog, Skunk who talks about money and culture with irreverance and wit and enormous insight, and of course Purg whom I found scarily intimidating until I found out he was a sweetie-pie. There was also Gastronomica / the Equalizer who used to write lyrical and beautiful posts, but who opened his own restaurant and doesn’t seem to blog anymore.

Thank you all – you inspired me and helped me have the courage to jump in.

Zin, you most of all. I remember a post where you asked if you should even continue, that you knew there were a lot of viewers, but few responses, and boom! you got all kinds of responses! When you blog, you kind of put yourself out there, and that can be a little scary. You were an inspiration to me.

Thank you all, old friends and new, for making me so welcome. One year later, I feel like I have a whole new world of virtual friends. 🙂

When I started blogging, my niece, Little Diamond, was a frequent visitor, and just one short month later, she also started blogging. Then my nephew Earthling blogged for a while on the Google campus and the food there. My sister, Sparkle also blogs sporadically. And, just so you know, my Mom reads the blog, so I am very careful about language!

I hope you are having as much fun with Here, There and Everywhere as I am. I love the times you jump in and give me the information I need to answer those useless questions that buzz around in my head, like with the Yemeni Star. Now I know something new! I love it!

The only bad surprises I have had were the occasional nasty comment and the garbage bins full of spam. I have to go through the spam, and I try to do it quickly, to make sure good comments don’t get lost, but oh, what horrid stuff there is out there, and I am offended they would want to put it on MY blog. It makes my skin crawl!

As for the occasional nasty or aggressive comment – mostly, I let them stand. I figure it tells you more about the mentality of the commenter than anything about my blog. Some people just carry a lot of baggage, more to be pitied than condemned.

Thank you. My time here in Kuwait is so much richer for knowing you through your blogs, and for the good and bad times we share.

September 6, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Community, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Language, Relationships, Uncategorized, WordPress | 37 Comments