A part of my company induction last week was an hour class of Safety and Security policies in Abu Dhabi. At the end of the session, I raised this question:
”Is pepper spray legal in the UAE? Or are we allowed to carry that little electric thing which you can use to protect yourself from harassment?
Sadly the answer was no.
They elaborated more on having to always be in a group, not going out alone, calling the police, blah, blah. There were a few Emirati people in the group so I kept my mouth shut. But my internal ramblings continued.
What if you need to walk home everyday from work?
What if you just want to buy grocery from the supermarket across the street?
What if you just want to have a quiet time alone, perhaps coffee in a shop?
What if you just want to jog peacefully?
What if you’re a loner and people suffocate you?
What if you’re in a group or you’re with a friend and you still get harassed?
What if the perverts are long gone when the police shows up?
In a normal world and in a normal country, people should have the rights to carry out daily tasks and live every day without being bothered, distressed or exploited. Everyone has the right to walk the streets confidently without being objectified.
A local lady spoke up and said the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.
”The UAE is a very safe place. Here, they respect women. You are safe in this country.”
A local guy agreed with her. And a new expat who was sitting beside me, looked at me and said in kind wishful tone,
”Maybe because of their culture and religion, women are treated well here?”
I swallowed a chuckle and smiled very politely. Whatever you say, people.
All I could think of that moment were cans and cans and cans of pepper sprays, in different colors, in different adverse effect.
When will men from this region learn to keep their sexual desires inside their pants?
Legalize pepper sprays!