Mom fights Arab Emirates over son’s rapeNov 2nd, 2007 | By Jody May-Chang | Category: Uncategorized
The mother of a 15-year-old boy is taking on the United Arab Emirates over how it tried to bury the story about her son’s violent rape by men known to have been HIV positive because of the nation’s cultural loathing of homosexuality.
Veronique Robert, a French journalist, says her son was on his way home from a Dubai mall when he was abducted by three men in July, taken to a remote location where he was repeatedly raped.
“They tried to smother this story,” Alex said by phone from Switzerland, where he fled a month into his 10th grade, fearing a jail term in Dubai if charged with homosexual activity. “Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news, they hide it. They don’t want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages.”
Authorities eventually caught the assailants and charged them with the crime, but ended up threatening to expose her son as a homosexual if they pressed the case. Robert had discovered that she had obtained an official document, dated 2003, indicating authorities in the United Arab Emirates knew one defendant was HIV positive then.
The boy’s mother says UAE authorities concealed the information from her, preventing her from taking action to seek health care for her son.
Robert has posted a website defending her son and calling on a boycott of the United Arab Emirates which covers up HIV/AIDS status reports. The website calls for pressure on Dubai to protect underage rape victims and ensure that they are tested for infectious diseases and get psychological help after an attack.
A check of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS shows no statistics for HIV infection in the United Arab Emirates.
A US State Department travel advisory states that long-time foreigners who plan to stay in the UEA are required by that nation to have an AIDS test after arrival. “A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted,” the website states.
The rape of the boy has hit a nerve with the public where denial runs rampant that AIDS exists in that Arab city-state.
The case has exposed deep rifts over attitudes toward homosexuality and what critics call an outmoded legal system, mixing religious and tribal values.
United Arab Emirates law does not recognize rape of males, only a crime called “forced homosexuality.”
Dubai officials refuse to comment on the mother’s accusations, and the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington had not issued a statement.
Veronique Robert’s statement on her website:
I dedicate this website to all the children of the world whose wounds were never recognized, their words never heard and their suffering never known.
I dedicate this web site to all the mothers of the world even the ones of my son’s aggressors.
To all the Pakistani, Filipino, and Indian mothers who were expelled from Dubai to their countries of origin with their little children, wounded in their hearts, flesh and minds
This web site is open to all the mothers of the world united in the same Combat.
Tears have no identity, no religion. We must unite so when tears run , it will no longer be in loneliness but in front of the whole world’s eyes , with many hands to wipe them.
The teen has not contracted HIV, but he will not know for certain until January, when he gets another blood test at the end of the disease’s six-month incubation period.
Jody May-Chang now writes on "As I See It...Reporting from the front lines