President Biden Talks about Certain Female Prisoners, Remains Silent about Others

2021-02-24 - 9:22 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): US President Joe Biden came out on February 12, 2021 to express his joy over the release of Saudi Loujain Al-Hathloul after more than five years in detention.

A few days ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his government's "concern" over the situation of Sheikha Latifa, daughter of the UAE's Vice Prime Minister, Dubai's ruler  Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Johnson's comments came a day after the BBC released a documentary, which included videos of Sheikha Latifa saying she is being held in a "villa which turned into a prison".

All this Western interest in the issues of some women in the Gulf region raises questions about the silence of these countries towards the suffering of other Gulf women. This is deemed selective attention which has no clear criterion, as to when women and their suffering are a priority for these countries, and when they are not!

Why don't these humanitarian stances they take include the names of Bahraini female prisoners of conscience, such as Zakiya Al-Barbouri, or Saudi female prisoners like Naseema Al-Sada, Samar Badawi and others?

The nationality of the only Bahraini political prisoner, Zakiya Al-Barbouri, who was sentenced to five years in prison on February 6, 2019, has been revoked. Al-Barbouri is still suffering alone, and has recently tried to draw the world's attention to her case by launching a hunger strike.

Why didn't the Western politicians hear the cry launched by activists Ibtisam Al-Saegh and Najah Al-Sheikh after what they were subjected to in detention in Bahrain? In December 2020, British Home Secretary Priti Patel visited the same building where Al-Saegh and Al-Sheikh were tortured and sexually assaulted.

In fact, since the mid-1990s, women in Bahrain have been subjected to various serious human rights violations, and this situation is still ongoing.

The first woman who was detained in the wake of the 2011 unrest was Fadila Al-Moubarak, who was convicted of inciting hatred against the regime. She was not legally represented and was sentenced to four years in prison.

A 51-year-old woman, Bahiya Al-Aradi, was shot in her head by the military while driving her car near the Al-Qidam Bridge. Although the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) concluded that the security forces had caused her death, no charges were brought against her murderer.

Security forces also persecuted doctors and nurses who provided medical assistance to the injured protesters in 2011. They were tortured, sexually assaulted and threatened with rape while in detention at Isa Town Women's Prison. In addition, security forces raided schools and universities and arrested dozens of female teachers on charges of "inciting hatred and attempting to overthrow the regime".

Among the imprisoned women were: Ayat Al-Korkomazi, Rayhana Al-Mosawi, Najah Yousif, Ibtisam Al-Saegh, Hajar Ali, Faten Abdulhussein, Amira Al-Qashaami, Hamida Joumaa, Mona Habib Idris, Madina Ali, Fatima Ali, Iman Ali, Fawziya Mashala, Zainab Maki Marhoun, Taiba Darwish and others.

Bahrain's women have not only joined men in expressing their collective complaints and protest against the repressive government, but have also suffered from systematic reprisals on an individual level.

The substantial suffering of Bahrain's women has not been translated into public positions made by the western governments, which have preferred to remain silent, and will continue to be silent, unless their interests call for speaking out about human rights and women's rights.

Arabic Version