"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rape & Homosexuality in Saudi Arabia

This post is somewhat a follow-up of the children and veiled women post from yesterday especially the part about Naser's adventures in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But first, here is an interesting tidbit which includes KSA. The other day I saw a Yahoo news story about switching countries. Seven hundred million people worldwide (that's roughly the adult population of both North and South America) would move to another country if given the opportunity. Those in sub-Saharan Africa (38%) were the most likely to want to switch while only ten percent of Asians would move. Top places people want to move to are as follows:

The United States - 165 million -- one fourth of those surveyed
Britain, Canada and France - 45 million each
Spain - 35 million
Saudi Arabia - 30 million
Australia and Germany - 25 million each

I just find things like that interesting. :)

Now on to Naser's story . . .

When his uncle is unable to pay the fee that the Saudi sponsor requires, Naser, aged 15, is requested to meet with this man. His uncle was told the sponsor was willing to wait for the money so Naser headed to the sponsor's house in order to get the renewal information taken care of. Instead the sponsor shares that Naser can settle the debt ... and it doesn't require any money. His body will do just fine.

So is there any wonder this young Eritrean man is trying to numb his pain by drinking perfume and sniffing glue?

And later when his uncle kicks him out of the house for being a "bad Muslim," Naser is at the mercy of his friend Jasim who owns a café where men go to meet other men! And I don't mean just to smoke shisha and play a game of chess! Remember this is Saudi Arabia where the men and women are not allowed to mix.

Jasim gave Naser a job in his café and wanted him to wear tight cotton trousers under his thobe.

"Look, Jasim, I can't wear this to work. It is bad enough wearing a thobe. I can't imagine what it will be like wearing something as tight as this. I'm tired of customers pinching my bottom all the time and promising gifts if I agree to their propositions." . . .

"Don't worry, you will wear it under your thobe. But can you blame them, Naser?"


"My dear, in a world without women and in the absence of female glamour, boys like you are the perfect substitute. Why hide your attractiveness and your tender physique like a veiled woman? You are the closest my customers have to a beautiful and sensual person roaming freely in their world. So why sit on your beauty like a bird without wings, when you can fly?" . . .

"Naser, I want to make my café like a paradise, where everything one desires, one gets. They can lock women away, but they can't cage our fantasies. I want to find other ways to set passion free."

For a while, we didn't say anything to each other. And I did what I always did in Saudi when there was nothing else I could do. I closed my eyes.

So while waiting tables Naser realizes Rashid wants an inappropriate relationship with him. He storms to his room and his friend meets him there.

"Naser, it is hard for me to ask you to do this not least because ..." He paused, sighed deeply, and then said, "Naser, Rashid likes you. He said he must have you because he wants you to . . . "

"Let me guess. He wants me to be his boy until he gets married. I have heard it many times before but I am not going to do it."

"Naser, we can't refuse Rashid. He might not look it, but he is a very important man for this café. I didn't tell you this before, but for me to keep my business open, I have to do certain things, obey certain rules. I am a foreigner like you; I could be kicked out from this country any minute if I don't follow the rules. You are very dear to me, I will only ask you to do things for a reason. If this shop is shut down, where will you go? Who will open their house to you?"

Quotes from pages 56 and 59 from The Consequences of Love by Sulaiman Addonia


Unknown said...

The book sounds interesting. Just one thing that bugged me here...I could be misinterpreting, but it sounds like the separation between men and women is the reason for this abuse. But this isn't allowed either! If the blame for this is on men and women being separated, then if they weren't separated, all that would change is that women would be treated this way instead. That's a pretty horrifying conclusion, for me. I think it has more to do with an attitude anyone would have that they have the right to just take what they want regardless of how it hurts someone else. If they can't wait for sex, they should get married sooner. At any rate, people need to practice self-control and we need to make it clear that using people like this isn't acceptable regardless of gender. Frankly, if I was a woman living around men like this, I'd be thankful for the separation.

Stacy K. said...

I have heard a lot about these types of practices, but its hard to say how widespread they really are. I think that the ages of marriage being pushed higher due to economics is bad for both men and women. However, you also have to change a person's heart so that they have no desire to do these types of evil either.

Susanne said...

Sanil, that's a really good point. IN THIS BOOK, I do think it gives that message - at least so far. The young Naser grew up in an open environment, at least for his first ten years. He adored his mom and her friend and then had girl friends at school in the refugee camp. He doesn't understand or like this sudden switch to a world without women (basically.)

"I think it has more to do with an attitude anyone would have that they have the right to just take what they want regardless of how it hurts someone else"

Yes, excellent point! As you said people need to practice self-control. I am not on the earth so you can use and abuse me however you want. True, true.

I still think the separation thing in Saudi is awful. I've read of people in prisons here who turned to homosexual acts simply because there were only men (or women in a women's prison) available. Maybe if you could just talk and intermingle with the opposite sex, you would cool off some of that great desire to BE with that person. *shrug* I don't know. I grew up with male friends and enjoyed the interaction. I can't imagine a world full of only females. I rather like men. :)

Thanks for your thought-provoking comments. I think the key is "in honor prefer one another" over yourself. If we could live like that, what a different world it would be!

Stacy, always happy to see your comments. I've also heard about this, but didn't think it was true. Reading this book has been eye-opening and I got all this from just the first fifty pages or so. I hope it's not very widespread. The author is Eritrean and Ethiopian and it says he grew up in Jeddah and found asylum in the UK. So I am left to speculate whether some of this portrays his own experiences as a foreigner in the KSA. Or maybe it's all a huge exaggeration. I really don't know. Actually when I read the part about Naser being raped by his male sponsor (straight from the book), my Syrian friend didn't bat an eyelash. He said he'd heard of such things and it wasn't surprising to him at all. The joke in Syria among the more conservative/moderate Muslims is that the worst criminals live in God's holiest place on earth. (He said it better than I just did, but you get the gist.)

"However, you also have to change a person's heart so that they have no desire to do these types of evil either."

Exactly! Evil people will do evil things whether a man or woman is available. Only God can change their hearts so they desire to do *good* to that person instead.

Wonderful comments, Ladies. Thanks much!

Amber said...

I have nothing to say that Sanil and yourself haven't already said. But I comment anyway, because I feel the urge.

okunoba said...

what book talks about rape and homosexuality in saudi arabia, and the adventure of nasser in KSA? Can I have name of book and author.

Susanne said...

Sure! It was at the bottom of the post so maybe you missed it with all my ramblings. :)

BTW, it's a novel, but I've been told it's not as fictitious as the Saudis would wish.

The book is "The Consequences of Love" by Sulaiman Addonia