Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Rola Dashti Tackles Sensitive Issues

“Why are you looking so sad?” AdventureMan asked me as we sat down to dinner.

(Sigh) “There are people in Kuwait who don’t believe change is possible, and there is a movement afoot to WITHHOLD their votes as a protest.”

“Why do you care? It’s not your country?”

We call it “falling on your sword,” when a person does something fatal to self, to career, to family or to country, choosing an issue and staking everything on it. Rarely does it pay. The world moves on, life goes on and you are left behind bleeding on your sword.

Withholding your vote gives more power to those who are good at stirring up the rabble with irrational and selfish issues. Those who get the votes are those who make grandiose – and general – promises, those who refuse to be held accountable.

If you are a person who cares deeply about Kuwait – Please, do not withhold your vote. Do the hard work of listening to the candidates, and exploring their reputations for truthfulness and accountability. Think beyond your own needs, think of the greater good of Kuwait.

This is from today’s Al Watan; a candidate tackling some very sensitive issues, bringing them out in the open.

Ghenwah Jabouri
Staff Writer Al Watan

KUWAIT: In pursuit of winning enough ballots to secure a seat in the National Assembly, Dr. Rola Dashti, who is believed to be a potential woman candidate, delivered an emotive speech Monday evening to announce her parliamentary agenda if elected.

Dashti touched on sensitive and delicate issues which aroused the emotions of the audience, resulting in heated engagements later on in the evening.

Dashti mainly focused on family related issues, germane to women issues.

In an attempt to recoup the cynicism manifested by citizens toward parliament, Dashti urged the audience to not ponder on who is wrong or right.

“We need to move on; seeking to blame parliament, government, MPs, etc., is not going to serve us justice. We need to focus on developing Kuwait, rather then pointing our fingers at the wrongdoers, ” Dashti said.

She stressed that whether it was the parliament, the government, or the citizenship who committed the mistakes is not important; “what is important is that we learn from such mistakes.

“Individuals who have the cultural habituate of blaming, attacking and are cynical, do not want to move toward the future; rather, they want to travel back in time. Allow me to give you an example: last year, thirty percent of citizens in my constituency did not cast their ballot. These people are like you and me: their heart is burning for Kuwait, and they observed nothing positive, and they are in immense suffering.
“They gave up on hope and decided to ultimately not vote. Had half of them voted (nine thousand), ten people who would have succeeded in the Third Constituency elections would have determined a better fate for those that abstained from voting.” She further lamented that society should consider first and foremost Kuwait, and that the children, the youth and coming generations “deserve this.”

Dashti, further illustrating her point, noted: “For example, if soـandـsoـperson does not vote, who is going to protect their rights and so forth?”

Dashti stressed that Kuwait is experiencing “tumultuous times” and that the country is on the verge of a major collapse.

“Kuwait cannot afford political arguments and political confrontations and commotions. It is in our hands to save Kuwait. If we take responsibility, vote and call on those who did not vote to cast their ballot, change might have a chance of survival.

“Hundreds of people did not cast their votes because they lost their confidence in parliament. However, many families are suffering, and so, it is pivotal to acquire each and every vote; we need to give back what Kuwait bestowed us with.

“We need to give a little back to those who lost their lives to protect Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion in 1990; many people lost their lives during the invasion who fought for our liberty. Women were raped and families were torn apart. We need to give back a little, we need to continue to believe, and fight for our children and future generations,” Dashti added.

“Does Kuwait not deserve for us to stand in the cue for fifteen minutes to cast our votes?”

Talking more about women”s issues, Dashti noted that there are many things that need to be considered where women’s issues are concerned.

“Women have many burdens that they shoulder; the divorced, the widowed, the one who is married to an expatriate, and housing for women, all are issues the Kuwaiti woman suffers from.”

She pointed out that not every family is living happily, “although this is something I would love to achieve.
“Today, the Kuwaiti family has to wait fifteen years for (government) housing. Where will the divorced woman go during this lengthy period?

“This woman could be my sister, my mother, or our daughter; where does she go?”

Dashti noted that the law stipulates that a woman who is over forty years of age and both of whose father and mother are deceased and is unassisted by a guardian “is entitled to receive a housing allowance.”

“However,” Dashti said challenging the law, “what about other women in a somewhat parallel situation where the father is deceased but is not receiving allowance from her guardian ـ what can she do? Shall the woman take her guardian to court to sue him?

“Why does the law in pursuit of helping women insist on punishing them, even insulting her?
“This law is one of many that are flawed and need to be amended,” Dashti stressed.

She further said that “neither Kuwait or the people of Kuwait can tolerate empty words and useless slogans. Today we need to put many things on the table and take action in tackling them.

“Let”s now have a look at the children of some Kuwaiti women who are married to expatriates: we need to look at their educational, health, and employment and social needs and treat them with justice, like other children are treated who have Kuwaiti fathers.

“This is their country, why are we abusing them? These are our cousins, our brothers and sisters, and have to be treated with equality when their mother is a citizen of the country.”

She further added that citizens have been “fooled” enough; “vote for someone who knows what they can do, someone who can save us from the financial burden.” Touching on an issue that has become central in campaigns, Dashti noted, “We should not allow people who do not understand finance to tamper with the budget.

“Nor should we allow individuals who are responsible in dealing with the financial budget to use the financial budget for personal gains.”

“Why should we follow those who damage our financial budget, and steal the money of the public? There is another option: choose someone who will protect the public financial budget and enhance the budget!”
Dashti further stated that there is an “internal bleeding” in the country and that she is not going to offer an “aspirin to silence your pain to only kill you” as a member of parliament.

“I will opt for a long term alternative and choose to cure you.”

During the question and answer session following her address, particularly passionate but enraged voices emerged, where some expressed their frustration with the old faces of parliament.

One woman said she was “fed up with the old faces and that it is about time new faces took over.”
She further said, “We have been deceived, fooled and cheated by the old MPs,” and stressed, “We are suffering and are in desperate need of MPs who will promote social and financial justice.
“Kuwait has hit a plateau and something”s got to give,” she noted.

Another woman made a remark about Dashti”s strong foreign accent.
She noted: “Society often criticizes you (Dashti) for speaking in a Lebanese accent.
“I don”t understand why you come under scrutiny for such a reason. After all, people have television at home and typically watch the satellite channels, all of which speak in foreign accents.”
The woman”s comment was understood to be a positive comment, where she welcomed Dashti”s candidacy and believes that the candidate will be a forceful vehicle towards righteous deeds toward society.

Another frustrated woman spoke about property and about people whose houses was taken from them by the banks. She said that she read an article in Al Watan newspaper that there are many withdrawn properties and houses for sale.

“The inheritors are crying blood and are traumatic, because their houses are being taken from them. Other citizens are staying in small apartments after they used to occupy villas,” she said.

Another woman who was virtually in tears pled to the people “to opt for change and choose new faces, even if the new members of parliament will do nothing.

“The former parliament has tormented and killed me; please, give your votes to new faces, in the name of God, please, vote for change.”

April 29, 2009 - Posted by | Character, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Leadership, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Women's Issues


  1. I knew Rola when she worked at the Kuwait Reconstruction Office in Washington, DC, during the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq. If there are ANY doubts as to her committment to the betterment of Kuwait, I ask you: Where were the naysayers when Rola was sleeping next to her desk in a sleeping bag on the floor trying to pick up the pieces of her broken country? She has amazing strength and fortitude! She has the education and experience to back up her promises.

    These same MEN who skoff at her for having a “Lebanese accent” are the ones who are raping their own country while she tries – still – to rebuild! What makes her any less Kuwaiti? I say she is MORE. She has been on the frontline of the battlefield for the betterment of this country for as long as I have known her (and probably much longer). She fights for women and women’s rights and faces nothing but blind prejudice for it.

    If I were Kuwaiti and eligible to vote, I would vote for Rola in a heartbeat.

    Comment by Meghan McCabe | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. I agree with you Intlxpatr, there is a general feeling of despair in Kuwait, and to be honest I don`t beleieve that this election will make a difference, but why give up on my country when there is still a glimmer of hope?! I will never forfeit my right to elect and I will wake up very early on May 16 and I will vote.
    Rola Dashti is worthy of our votes. I wish her the best, but since I`m registered in the first constituency I will vote for another worthy lady, Dr Maasouma Al-Mubarak.

    Comment by noura | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  3. Meghan now I know where we all met – yup she worked hard and so many meetings were organized. Those were days weren’t they? Her mother was also working with us, alongside all the DC Kuwaiti group (Bettina Al-Bakhit, Sundus, etc)

    I also worked with Rola on the Kuwait POW committee under the late Sheik Salem alongside Balquis Al-Saleh (we were colleagues from Kuna) – all of us DC/Balt graduates, all having been stuck in DC during the invasion and trying to make sense of it all and make a difference.

    I miss that spirit, that group, that camraderie we all had.

    But back to the main point: we will vote, we do care but we don’t think its going to make a difference. Don’t people understand – what we are living through now is premedidated.

    Two things are killing Kuwait:

    1. Greed (on all parties)
    2. Non-implementation of laws and lack of transparency
    3. Power struggle between constitution and anti-constitution advocates

    Free speech, democracy etc means nothing unless the above issues are resolved.

    And this is coming from someone who used to cheerlead/blog about ‘choosing the right candidate and making a difference.’

    It is hopeless. We *will* vote but it wont make a difference.

    Comment by hilaliya | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  4. Hilaliya –

    How is Balquis??? I never knew her last name! That’s so funny. If you see her, ask her if she is still trying to wrestle marines… 🙂 Tell her I said a big hello!

    Rola’s mother, Um Salah, was on the firing range with me and she was the best shot in our group (her shell casings kept hitting me in the head)! Jamal with the US troops, and Salah in the resistance…. They are a tuff family.

    I know what you mean – Just about everything here seems futile. It is a permeating atmosphere of depression and frustration. There is so much potential and so much corruption.

    I used to hear “If you aren’t a thief, no one respects you.” Having seen it first hand (and longtime), I now have a deep understanding of that sentiment. I guess I’m a loser because I will never conform to it.

    We should do a DC group reunion someday.

    Comment by Meghan McCabe | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  5. Rola and her mom are total sweethearts. The mother is all smiles, hugs, and kisses whenever we meet. GENUINE, I might add. As for Dr Rola, her passion and strength moved me so, that I signed up to help her camp. Here’s hoping she wins!

    Comment by Drunk'n'Gorgeous | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  6. Once again, I learn from my readers and commenters . . .:-)

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  7. […] Rola Dashti Tackles Sensitive Issues « Here There and EverywhereKUWAIT: In pursuit of winning enough ballots to secure a seat in the National Assembly, Dr. Rola Dashti, who is believed to be a potential woman candidate, delivered an emotive speech Monday evening to announce her parliamentary agenda … Read more […]

    Pingback by Rola Dashti | FTP2FTP News | May 25, 2009 | Reply

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