Monday, 29 July 2013

Please don't tell me what to think.

Every now and again, some story keeps popping up wherever I look, and recently (besides, of course, the obsession with the Royal baby), there were two stories that got repeatedly shoved in my face on Twitter and Facebook.

A) The rape allegation by the Norwegian expat in Dubai.
B) The poor black child murdered in daylight by someone for apparently just wearing a hoodie.

If I were to simply look at the messages spread by Facebook, Twitter and links people shared everywhere I looked, this is what I could learn. A woman went on a business trip to Dubai. She got raped by her colleague and faced jail for it, because this is how unfair UAE system is towards women.
And as for the black guy murdered, the impression I got at first, before I even knew what happened, was that he was just an innocent boy who was killed because he must have just looked suspicious in his hoodie and being black.  I was led to believe that was the case from the numerous photos all over Facebook, like the one with some young medical students posing in hooded tops asking do we look dangerous to you? 

I don't know. Maybe it is just me. But I am getting somewhat annoyed at the way social media seems to dictate what I should be thinking or feeling, dragging me into campaigns, cases and petitions before I even get a chance to find out more about what actually did happen.

The rape story got big straight away, especially for those of us living in Qatar, and judging from the comments left under the Doha News article, most people started to blame Dubai and UAE, and the way women get mistreated there.

But hold on a minute. These cases happen all over the world. Especially in countries where ladies love to drink heavily. And, according to some sources, like this article here that I have found straight away as I tried to look into this subject, things might be changing in the West, but it was not always the case. It is extremely complicated to prove sex was not consensual if the victim was so drunk. Anywhere in the world. 

Also, let's just get the whole picture, or whatever we can get. A young pretty lady goes on a business trip to Dubai. She gets so drunk that, at 3am she asks her colleague to walk her to her hotel room. Now, from personal experience, i believe that most men are pretty delusional when it comes to their sex appeal. They truly believe that they are irresistible, even when sober. I am not justifying what this man did! But I am also not entirely convinced that the woman herself should not have been acting more responsibly.  I have some doubts that this colleague of Dalelv was planning to take her by force that night. He had a job I assume he would have liked to keep, and children and a wife. But that night in Dubai, a place where (despite the no-drinking-without-license rule I never heard about) expats famously tend to party hard....he probably got carried away. He was drunk, she was (sounds like very) drunk, they were possibly flirting all night-that is possible, right? Or maybe, she was not flirting. Maybe, she was just friendly, in this Western kind of way. But he misunderstood. He probably thought that her asking him to walk her to her room was more like an invitation to walk her to her room (wink-wink, you know). Easy mistake, if you think about it.

Was it a rape? Maybe. I don't know, and really, neither does anyone else. Was it that shocking that the police in Dubai would make the wrong assumptions? Not really.

I used to confidently cross the road at the pedestrian crossings, even if the approaching cars were going a bit fast. And Husband would always tell me off for being so reckless. 'Were you going to wait and see if the car stops first?!'
'But it is my right of way!' I would reply.
'Yes, it is but what good would that do to you when you lie there dead?'

And that is exactly what i thought while reading about Dalelv. Maybe, as a Western woman, she was raised believing that it was her right to get so drunk that she did not even remember what happened in that room until it was too late.  The fact remains is that she put herself in  a situation that made her vulnerable, in a country where things are very different and viewed very differently.

What, I guess, I am talking about is that we seem to get influenced by the social media enormously. We get shown a photo with a murdered boy smiling at us and we believe he was the innocent victim. And the more I look at images and shared links on Facebook, the more I feel guilty for thinking quietly to myself "hmm, I am not sure? maybe he was not so innocent". In fact, we know he was not. So how come I still see articles and photos trying to convince me otherwise? We are told a western woman was raped and accused of extramarital sex, and we follow the predicable route- we shout about the injustice, about the women's rights in Arabic countries, we rush to discuss what a terrible country Dubai must be, and we are not allowed to stop for a second and ask any questions, whatsoever. Because, that just does not fit into the popular Facebook point of view, does it.


  1. Dear, so true! We should think about different points of view all the time. Mass media can create image and destroy it playing with words every way they need.

  2. That's what happens when we only get one side of the story.
    All I may add to your post is: well said (or written).

    1. We need to be able to ask for another side, always. Without being attacked for it.

  3. "A young pretty lady goes on a business trip to Dubai"

  4. Here you can see the different causes of rape:

  5. It's good to want to form your own opinion without jumping on the bandwagon, I agree, and social media tends to reduce everything to catchy slogan and emotional-trigger conclusions, producing mass hysteria. And I get annoyed at that too.

    But, reading this over a month later (I catch up on my blog-reading late, I know), I still think that even without the grey-zone "innocent" or not deliberations, these cases expose certain social injustices, which, once exposed, make the details of the case less relevant that the power structures involved. The woman in the case you describe may have acted stupidly, recklessly, and even ignorantly to some extent; her colleague may have "misunderstood" or he may have taken advantage or he may have raped her plain and simple. But what I think got people riled up was the fact that she was sentenced to jail time (!) for "drink alcohol" and "having extramarital sex", which sounds insane to anyone living in the West, and not just the West, really. Even if this is the law in Qatar, it doesn't mean we cannot criticize the law, does it?

    As for the other case, so far as I understand the details of it (and I might be wrong too), the victim did try to defend himself in what is, sadly, common interracial street tussle in that part of Florida. The assailant had a gun, that's all. To me, this exposes not merely problem of racism but the issues of rampant gun ownership. The question remains, of course, how we are to have an intelligent conversation about anything in the instant-twitter age...

    Good blog, btw. I have been quietly reading it for some time now :)

    1. Thanks, Nika. And thanks for taking your time to comment, it has been mainly a Facebook discussion these days, not many comments appear here. and I miss them! I feel like I am talking to myself. :)

  6. Every single time someone suggests that a reported rape victim could have avoided what happened(as in,not hitchiking alone in India) there will be 500 people saying that suggesting so means being a rape apologist/supporting the rape culture