Who could ever forget the hauntingly gaunt images of John Mark Karr being replayed over and over again on International news broadcasts like CNN and BBC? Remember, Karr claimed to be the rapist and murderer of little pageant queen JonBenet Ramsay, but later investigators determined he had concocted the whole farce because he was obsessed with the little girl.
Regardless of Karrâ€™s guilt, Western pedophiles from across the globe are paraded on TV, which is a commendable thing that shows the World the faces of these monsters and hopefully helps to deter other pedophiles from abusing children.
However, I have never seen a pedophile from the Middle East paraded on TV for their crimes against children, the lack of transparency in the International arena used to give me a false sense of security when I first landed in this new region of the World. I thought that pedophilia simply did not exist over here. I though sexual crimes against children were far behind in the Western world I just left.
After living in the Middle East for more than 10 years I can now safely say that pedophilia not only exists in these windswept deserts but that it is rampant.
It is not surprising to read about a child being raped in any one of the newspapers in the Gulf. It has happened in all parts of the GCC and it will continue to happen no matter how hard governments try to keep it out of the media.
One of the most recent cases of pedophilia occurred in Dubai, 3 Emirate nationals raped a 16-year-old French student. After the boy was examined, the doctor concurred that the boy himself was a homosexual. Authorities discouraged the French parents from prosecuting as the boy could be tried for the crime of homosexuality.
The mother of the boy was so incensed at the maltreatment of the case that she has launched an Internet boycott of Dubai.
This case did get media attention, however, because the victim was a westerner. Crimes against non-Western children simply donâ€™t make it out of the local media of the specific country.
Certainly, the governments donâ€™t want such â€˜dirty laundryâ€™ to be spread so they keep it quiet and International media also seems to be turning a blind eye. However, one of the main reasons why pedophilia in the Middle East is kept so hush-hush is that the subject of sex crimes against children is a taboo issue. It is so vile that no one wants to think about it let alone talk about it. But is this an issue we can really afford to ignore?
One of the biggest cases of pedophilia I have ever heard about occurring in the Middle East took place within the past year and it happened right on my â€˜doorstepâ€™. One city over from mine in the State of Kuwait, named â€˜Hawallyâ€™ was where the atrocities took place.
A man, nicknamed â€˜The Hawally Monsterâ€™ in the local press, abducted more than 20 children, both boys and girls, over the space of several months one by one from school. He took each child to a deserted location and raped them. Then he would let them go. The police could not catch him and the public was terrified for months.
The schools issued warnings to parents and increased security. But â€˜The Hawally Monsterâ€™ kept finding children to rape.
Finally, this past July, the police caught him as he sat on an airplane ready to leave Kuwait for his home country of Egypt. The children identified the man, Hajaj Al-Saadi, a 27-year-old Egyptian national, based on the fact one of his front teeth was broken.
DNA tests also proved his guilt. You would think with a nickname like â€˜The Hawally Monsterâ€™ and the innumerable sex crimes this perverted individual perpetrated, that there would at least be a â€œBreaking Newsâ€ broadcast on CNN? But no, the story stayed in Kuwait and was swept under the rug where I am sure government officials prefer for it to stay.
The year 2007 would not end before another case of pedophilia was thrust into the local Kuwaiti spotlight. In this case, this past December, 3 boys were raped by Asian janitors right on school grounds.
The local uproar has filled the pages of all the newspapers in Kuwait and the Minister of Education is about to be dismissed over it. Once again, the story did not make it out of the Gulf.
Make no mistake; pedophilia is not simply a crime that happens when a stranger takes advantage of a child. Pedophilia can even occur within families and there have been several cases of incest reported in the local media of the Gulf. It was little over a year ago that a case was reported in a local Saudi Arabian newspaper that a 10 year old girl was repeatedly raped for three days by both her father and his brother who had locked up the girl in a room.
The girlâ€™s own mother knew what was occurring behind the closed door but did nothing about it for full 3 days before she finally called the police. The mother is just as guilty as the perpetrators of the vile act because she allowed it to happen. She stood by until it was too late. The girl may have survived the abuse but her tiny body will forever be scarred and the psychological scarring will alter any kind of life she could have ever hoped to have.
All nations of the World should adopt a transparent policy of rooting out pedophiles and punishing them to the fullest extent of the law. Children are helpless and have no choice but to rely on adults for protection.
Itâ€™s up to all members of the community â€“ parents, educators, religious leaders, friends and doctors to arm themselves with the knowledge to detect abuse if they see it and most importantly to report it.
It is stunning that heads of government in the Middle East are slapping themselves on the back for the current economic boom (related to oil production and sales) that they are riding, yet there is no talk about improving infrastructure which would provide better security for all the wardens of their respective nations.