Prince Harry does great work with Sentebale. The commitment he and Prince Seesio have made to bettering the lives of the children of Lesotho deserves much praise. Making a difference takes money. I imagine turning down large sums of it is something non-profits are loathe to do. But this October 7th fundraising dinner is a poor move no matter how much can be done with the money.
Dubai has positioned itself as a modern, friendly city in the midst of Western-hostile, conservative nations. It sells itself as progressive, glamorous, and the perfect holiday destination for Western travelers with money to spend. But it’s a farce.
The truth is the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is still ruled by hard-line Islamic law and while requiring women to dress conservatively when out in public is hardly a human rights violation the way victims of sexual assault are treated is despicable and intolerable. Recently the story of Norwegian woman Marte Deborah Dalelv, who went to the police when she was raped only to find herself jailed for sex outside of marriage, garnered world-wide attention. But her experience with the UAE legal system is hardly unique. In a world increasingly dominated by rape culture, the UAE has managed to reach the apex of victim-blaming. In this case, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoumwas, vice-president and prime minster of the UAE and ruler of Dubai , pardoned Ms. Dalelv but only to save face internationally.
This man who so generously pardoned Ms. Dalelv of her “crime” will be hosting Prince Harry at the fundraising dinner. Sentebale will also be partnering with the sheikh’s non-profit healthcare organization. Does his organization offer treatment to victims of sexual violence?
The prestige Harry’s visit will give Dubai’s ruler glosses over the crimes against humanity his government commits (their human rights violations extend beyond the sexual assault cases, see the links below.) This royal visit passively condones the horrible injustice Ms. Dalelv and other women have suffered in that country. While Sentebale will gain needed support, Dubai gains even more to prop up its facade of progressiveness with a visit by a senior member of the royal family.
What a shame.
Here are more links chronicling the UAE’s history of human rights abuse: