A drowning in Dubai has highlighted the extreme views of an Islamic father, who physically prevented two male lifeguards from saving the life of his 20-year-old drowning daughter. The female died after the father, citing a concern over her “modesty” and “honor,” violently thwarted two men – trained lifeguards – from entering the waters of the Persian Gulf.
Writes the AFP, via MSN News on Aug. 10: “A young Asian woman drowned after her father allegedly prevented Dubai lifeguards from coming to the rescue because that would ‘dishonor’ her. Emirates 24/7 reported that Dubai police arrested the unnamed man.”
According to the source, the girl’s father “started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them,” demanding that a female lifeguard be sent into the water instead. The father said he did not want the men “grappling” at his daughter, and told the rescuers that her death was preferable over the notion that unknown men would be handling her body.
Speaking to Emirates 24/7, Dubai Police Lieutenant Col. Ahmed Burqibah said, “The 20-year-old girl started drowning and screaming for help. Two rescue men were at the beach, and they rushed to help the girl.”
Burqibah said an “obstacle” prevented the lifeguards from reaching the drowning victim. “This obstacle was the belief of this Asian man who considered that if these men touched his daughter, then this would dishonor her. It cost him the life of his daughter…He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than being touched by a strange man.”
The official religion of the United Arab Emirates is Islam; the majority of UAE nationals are Muslim, and for many, strict religious beliefs play a major role in every component of life. The site al-islam.org, in giving written interpretation of the Quran, writes: “Body contact is not allowed with one whom it is not allowed to look at, and every kind of touching of the body to any part of the other one’s body is haram (forbidden by Allah) and one must refrain from this; unless it is from on top of the clothing and it is without the intention of lust.”
Waseem Ahmed, Director of Risk at the Intercontinental Hotel Group, spoke of the fact that Middle Eastern religious beliefs in Gulf countries are paramount, even over life threatening situations, and that local beaches must have trained female lifeguards on staff.
“Organizations and governments must employ certified female life guards to deal with females…whether it’s government or private sector,” Ahmed said. “But it is equally important to create an awareness amongst the community that the role of a lifeguard is that of a life-saver, like a doctor, and if in extreme cases when female life guards are not available, male lifeguards must act or else we risk losing human life.”
Adds The Blaze: “The case was reminiscent of the 2002 fire at a girl’s school in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, when it was reported that religious authorities prevented girls whose heads were not covered by Islamic headscarf from leaving the burning building. Fifteen girls died in the fire.”
Dubai police arrested the father for interfering in a lifesaving operation and for directly contributing to his daughter’s drowning death.