In response on a recent attempted abduction report, the Philippines Embassy in Doha is asking women to take precautionary measures to protect themselves from a similar occurrence, Gulf Times reports.
The newspaper quotes Ambassador Crescente Relacion as saying he was a “little bit alarmed” over incidents of rape and attempted rape cases of Filipina women in Qatar.
“As much as possible, women should move in groups when using public transport such as a taxi; do not wait for a public transport in a secluded place; do not hitch hike; do not ask a woman to go out for throwing garbage during night time; do not take a walk without a companion; and do not answer door knocks when you are not expecting a visitor, especially if you are staying alone in your house.”
The advice, which is being circulated to the Filipino community, was issued after the embassy received a report from three female nationals who were driven to a remote area by their taxi driver last week.
They had asked the driver to take them home around 11:45pm, but were reportedly taken to Abu Samra, where a red SUV was waiting, Gulf Times reports, quoting one of the women involved. She continued:
“When he stopped in that area, we freaked out and the driver said he was a good guy and gave us his Qatar ID and promised to bring us to Villaggio. However, he brought us to a dark area (in Abu Samra) and stopped a while there,” she said.
“Luckily the door of the car was not locked so we were able to get out and run but he followed us and was trying to bring us all back to the car,” she added. She said that they screamed and asked for help and some taxi drivers passing by stopped to help them. Then the suspect went away.
The women have reported the incident to the police, as well as the license plate of the taxi involved.
This is the not the first time the embassy has warned its female nationals to be on their guard.
Last year, the ambassador issued a warning for all Filipinos to be ask for identifiation when officials visit their home, following the reported gang rape of a Filipina by five men posing as police officers.
At the time, an embassy official told Doha News that they had received other sexual assault reports before, though gang rapes still remain uncommon in Qatar.
The country is known for being relatively safe, but incidences of crime have been rising as the population grows.
Meanwhile, female residents of all nationalities have complained about feeling threatened and intimidated by taxi drivers into paying higher fees, particularly at night.
Partly in response to this, taxi company Alijarah, a franchise of the state-backed transportation company Mowasalat, introduced female driver services last fall for women and families.
However, shortly after the rollout of these services, the company has already came up against a shortage of drivers amid high demand, JustHere reports.
What’s really sad is you’re trying to place the blame on the women, who travelled in a group and hired a legitimate taxi only to realize that even this wasn’t enough to guarantee their safety. During my years in Doha, I never saw a woman dressed in an inappropriate way, yet women were confronted by unknown males all the time. You can literally wear a bag covering your entire body and leaving only slits for your eyes and you’ll still be unpleasantly confronted, questioned and propositioned by men in every nook and cranny.
This comes from a woman who dressed and behaved very modestly during her years in Doha only to discover that modest dress was no deterrent at all – so, as far as I’m concerned, the dress is irrelevant and so is the male-to-female ratio in Qatar. The problem is not in the women’s dress or how much fewer they are than men, but in the men’s heads – so, fix the male mindset rather than trying to fix women all the time.
Speaking from experience, what makes Qatar, as well as the Gulf, such a painful place to be is the fact that women are endlessly fixed even when no need for fixing them exists while the idea of fixing the real culprits (a.k.a. men) does not occur to anyone at all. But, after all, this is the land of Islam and sexual morality is aimed exclusively at women, who are always blamed for a man’s loss of self-control.