Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tighten visa rules for Russian, Thai, Ethiopian and Chinese women to combat prostitution? Somehow I don't think so

As reported in today's GDN...

Bid to curb women's visas blocked

PARLIAMENT blocked an attempt by a group of MPs to tighten
visa rules for Russian, Thai, Ethiopian and Chinese women to combat
Al Asala bloc proposed an urgent curb on women from these
countries, saying they made up the majority of prostitutes. It wanted the
proposal to be sent to the Cabinet for immediate action.
Other MPs acknowledged that prostitution was on the rise, but said the proposal should be discussed with the Interior Ministry without the mention of any nationalities.
They said instead of going after the victims, they must focus on tackling
human trafficking.
The MPs said it was an opportunity to listen to ministry officials on the issue and get the related statistics.
Independent MP Dr Aziz Abul said attacks on nationalities would have repercussions on Bahrainis visiting these countries.
"We have ties with these countries and making such allegations, even if true, means that we dislike them. There are other nationalities involved. Why are those excluded? Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Abduljalil Khalil said Al Asala bloc was attacking the prey and leaving the predator.
"We should be looking for ways to combat having such women trafficked to Bahrain.
"Ministry officials should be called to give us an insight into what they have done to combat sleaze and give us figures. I see no logic in asking the government to tighten visa rules.
"There are respectable women from these countries who work in
companies, restaurants or as maids." Services committee chairman and Al Menbar
MP Dr Ali Ahmed said one of the countries mentioned was probing women being
trafficked to Bahrain.
"They don't accept what is happening and are taking measures to ensure their women are not brought here. I was present when they discussed the issue in their parliament.
The MPs were backed by Minister of State for Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel, who promised that the Interior Ministry would discuss the issue with parliament. He proposed that the duty could be carried out by parliament's foreign affairs, defence and national security panel.
However, Al Asala MPs demanded that the issue is referred to the Cabinet.
"We are bombarded with calls from people complaining about these nationalities in particular and numbers on the street speak for themselves, so why wait for the Interior Ministry?" asked Al Asala MP Abdulhaleem Murad.
"Everything is clear. The Interior Ministry will in the end agree that rules for visit and work visas to these nationalities should be tightened."

It's good to see that there are some Parliamentarians demonstrating common sense when dealing with the intellectually challenged who want to implement a simple solution which does nothing to solve the issue and causes a lot of collateral damage. Unfortunately we see this all too commonly where a sledgehammer is deemed the most useful tool to crack a nut... Kuwait tried it with the Bangladeshis, only to rescind the ban a few months later when they tried to implement it.

If Bahrain is serious about dealing with prostitution it must address some fundamental religious-societal issues. The supply is there because of demand. Some of these religious-societal factors which would contribute to demand for prostitutes, and this may well be more applicable in general terms to visitors from a neighbouring country, would include the treatment of women as chattels and all that it entails, such as the enforcement to cover up, the lack of equality between sexes under sharia law, and not allowing men and woman to develop healthy platonic relationships; or, if you consider another 'customer' grouping driving local low-cost demand, a public policy to import low-cost foreign male labour, but not allowing in their wives and families...

If the Interior Ministry wants to implement sledgehammer like policies, I suggest they implement a ban on Saudi males that are not accompanied by female family members as a start... I can see that happening, NOT! But as part of pan-arab cooperation efforts, it may help out a fellow Gulf tourist destination that is short of cash at the moment - Dubai.

But seriously, I can't see how the issue of prostitution will be resolved in Bahrain, no matter what the Interior Ministry comes up with. There are too many powerful vested interests to keep things as they are on the supply side... I can only assume that the odd prostitution racket that is busted is due to their sponsor not having powerful enough wasta, and/or is a way of removing freelancers and other competitors from the cartel that is probably operating in this industry as in most other industries in the country. And as for tackling the demand side... what can be done without a wholesale religious conversion or reformation, or change of attitude (for those not religiously-inclined).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting blog
God bless you