Here, she examines how expat men are using dating apps to approach women for casual sex, and the price many women pay for accepting their advances. On MeetMe, I pretended to be a year-old Filipina who had just moved to Doha and was looking to make new friends. Immediately, messages from men living in the city flooded my feed. Some were perfunctory greetings with a smiley emoji, but others were more direct. A lot more direct.
I coyly asked him what kind of women he liked, did he do this often, and did he always pay. I threw in a line about how I wanted to be the only one.
Unmarried sex may be a crime in Qatar, but that certainly does not stop people from finding it, having it and paying for it, if needed. Santos Prostitution is illegal in Qatar and punishable through jail time. However, it has become difficult to monitor how often people in Qatar are tried under these laws because media reporting on the subject has dwindled.
This does not surprise one lawyer in Doha who I spoke to on condition of anonymity. In his experience, the courts want to sentence zina offenders and deport them as quickly as possible.
Poor and vulnerable But the truth is that Qatar does send pregnant women to jail. Specifically, low-skilled migrant women. Many of these women are the target of the men using MeetMe and similar apps. Often, they are both lonely and make a very low income. This is a dangerous combination when zina laws are applied. But if they discover they are pregnant as a result, these woman are often trapped. While the more wealthy women can afford a trip abroad for an abortion, those on lower incomes cannot, and they can pay a heavy personal price.
She came out carrying her baby in her arms, wrapped in a blanket and the folds of her sari. Wazilfa, a divorced mother, had met a Bangladeshi man online and he became her boyfriend. They carried on a relationship for almost one year. Many steamy Friday afternoons ensued, and she got pregnant. But he disappeared when she told him she was pregnant. When Wazilfa began to show, her employer turned her over to the authorities.
She held up a hand and told us to wait while she found a piece of paper and a pen. When she came back, she held up the paper to the glass wall the separated us. It had a phone number scribbled on it. Tell him that I will marry him. There were many other women like Wazilfa.
Marriage the only way out Jo, for example, had been dressed in an abaya and taken out of jail for a wedding ceremony that involved nothing more than signing papers. She did not even speak or look at the man who was the father of her child. The father had denied paternity, but he could not deny the results of a court-mandated DNA test.
Jo had agreed to marry him to get out of jail. Most men avoid detention There was a common thread among these women. They were all domestic workers, they all met their boyfriends online and all of the men had abandoned them once they were told they were going to be fathers.
These men usually avoid detention. She no longer speaks to him. With the help of her sponsor, she was able to avoid jail. The police traced his real identity through his phone number.
He was in jail for a few days and avoided longer detention time when he married her. Birth control options While it seems that sex is easy enough to find in Doha, birth control and other interventions are not, if you are a female domestic worker.
Pixabay Photo for illustrative purposes only. Those who did know about contraceptive pills, for example, did not know where to get them from or which ones to ask for.
This option is however out of reach for most domestic workers for reasons of cost, and also because they would need to obtain an exit permit from their sponsor. Santos However, pills that induce medical abortion are sold online specifically to residents of the Gulf. The seller promises to walk you through the procedure. Additionally, there is no medical guarantee that the pills are safe to use. However, calls for their repeal have always been ignored by the Qatari government.
Sadly, their invisibility seems to be ingrained in the women themselves, too. Many seemed resigned to their fate. The idea of questioning the injustice of the zina law and demanding better treatment for themselves seemed like an alien concept.
I posed the same question to Jo, the woman who wore black for a wedding that took a few minutes and a few signatures.
She said she planned to take her baby back to the Philippines and then hoped to leave and work somewhere in the Gulf. And Ann simply shrugged her shoulders.