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Radha Stirling statement on asylum bid of Princess Haya

Left: Princess Haya seen with husband Sheikh Mohammed before her escape. Right: Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, an organisation which has become well known for helping Middle Eastern women escape oppression

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai released the following statement on the apparent asylum bid of Princess Haya, wife of the Ruler of Dubai:

“When Sheikha Latifa called me in early 2018, she wanted us to help her seek asylum. When she was dragged from the yacht Nostromo by UAE Special Forces in the Indian Ocean a few days later, she was screaming for asylum; saying that she would rather die than be returned to the UAE. Several months later, Latifa appeared in a highly orchestrated photo op alongside Mary Robinson and Princess Haya, looking dazed and sedated, and she has not been heard from since. So, I have no doubt that Princess Haya has every reason to fear the consequences if she were to be sent back to Dubai. She surely knows, as Latifa knew, that asylum provides her the only safe route out of the royal palace.

“The bias and discrimination women in the Gulf generally suffer is only amplified when they are members of the ruling family and come into conflict with the men in their lives, because they have even less recourse than an average woman. The UAE is a male-dominated society, and Princess Haya’s husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wields absolute power over Dubai. If she was abused, she could not go to the police; if she wanted a divorce, she could not go to the courts. When Sheikh Mohammed posted a threatening poem against her online; for all intents and purposes, that constituted a violation of the UAE’s cybercrime laws, but she could hardly file a criminal complaint against the Prime Minister of the UAE.

Just as Latifa allegedly suffered indescribable abuse at the hands of Sheikh Mohammed, and had no option but to escape; Haya apparently found herself in a similar situation. Fortunately for her, she was able to get away.