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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Court delays and rape. Sorry for the trouble.

Court delays and rape

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Despite my many complaints about the GDN, I do commend it for giving giving a good amount of attention to the abuse of migrant workers on the island. A worrying article in last Wedensday's paper tells us:

Alleged rapists are escaping prosecution because Bahrain's legal system is too slow, say human rights workers. The newly-named Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) has reported more than 20 cases of alleged rape and physical abuse of foreign housemaids to the police over the past two-and-a-half years, but says none has resulted in a conviction.

Of those, six are still pending in the courts having dragged on for up to a year-and-a-half.

But more than double that number of women have dropped cases because they got fed up and decided to go home, according to the MWPS.

In one case still underway, the defendant admitted in court last June beating Indian housemaid Anita Devi Verma, but has still not been sentenced. (Continued)

This is ridiculous. There have been several articles in the papers with huge boldprint headlines over the past year stating that the leadership has taken steps to speed up the courts. But it doesn't seem like anything has changed yet. These poor women get raped by their employers, and then further raped by the system.

Yet these ridiculous court delays are not restricted to just migrants. It also applies to Bahraini citizens, like Ahmed who has been sitting in prison for over 10 months now without trial or bail. ("No discrimination here!", I hear the authorities tell us).

When will things change?

Click here to read the entire GDN article


The following article was published in the GDN on 9-Mar-05:

Legal system 'is too slow'

By ROBERT SMITH

ALLEGED rapists are escaping prosecution be-cause Bahrain's legal system is too slow, say human rights workers. The newly-named Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) has reported more than 20 cases of alleged rape and physical abuse of foreign housemaids to the police over the past two-and-a-half years, but says none has resulted in a conviction.

Of those, six are still pending in the courts having dragged on for up to a year-and-a-half.

But more than double that number of women have dropped cases because they got fed up and decided to go home, according to the MWPS.

In one case still underway, the defendant admitted in court last June beating Indian housemaid Anita Devi Verma, but has still not been sentenced.

The complaint was first filed in October 2003, 18 months ago.

The MWPS is now appealing for a lawyer to come forward and represent foreign workers in the Bahrain courts.

"We have had over 12 serious cases of alleged sexual and physical abuse where women have dropped the case and gone home," said MWPS acting vice-chairman Alfredo D'Souza. "In most cases, around three quarters, they did not even get a settlement from the sponsor or alleged offender and we had to provide them with plane tickets.

"There are a few other cases that we did not take to court, but were able to reach a compromise."

The MWPS, which was previously known as the Migrant Workers Group (MWG), now wants Bahrain's courts to fast-track cases of alleged rape and physical abuse brought by foreign housemaids.

It is also calling for domestic workers to finally be brought under the Labour Law.

"We will campaign for that," said Mr D'Souza.

"Under the current system they are considered as part of the family, which means they are subject to abuse by unscrupulous employers be-cause there is no deterrent."

However, the slow legal process is said to be one of the main reasons why women drop cases against alleged attackers.

In one instance, a Bangladeshi housemaid allegedly raped last November was asked to go for a DNA test in December.

The Public Prosecution told members of the MWPS last week that it was still waiting for the results.

In another, an Indonesian housemaid allegedly raped last July has never once been called to appear before the court - despite lodging a complaint with police at the time.

When she first made the complaint, Mr D'Souza said her alleged attacker offered to send her home, pay her salary in full and throw in an extra BD100 if she left the country.

Now he is demanding BD200 in exchange for handing over her passport because the case has gone on so long.

"While that is going on what do we do with these girls?" asked MWPS action committee head Marietta Dias.

Ms Dias said victims sometimes had to spend anywhere up to six hours in a police station when they first report an attack.

They are then directed to the Public Prosecution, which sends them for medical tests.

However, she said it may be three or four days before they are finally given a check-up by police doctors.

Volunteers say they cannot get information about cases without the sponsor's details, but have to provide their own translators so that women can make a statement.

They also face problems housing women who come forward with allegations of rape and abuse.

The MWPS is now renting a three-bedroom flat, which it has converted into a shelter for abused foreign women.

However, cases are often prolonged even further when alleged attackers make a counter-claim and accuse the maid of stealing something.

Any lawyer interested in representing foreign workers should contact Ms Dias on 39452470. In addition, anyone who wants to make a donation to the MWPS or get involved in its activities can reach her on the same number.

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