Dar Al-Fatayat girls deserve special care



IT is the human values and the ability to identify them is what keeps us alive in this world, which is full of trouble and tribulations. Instead of taking a positive step to solve even the small problems of others with courage, people turn their back toward them, thinking it is not their responsibility.

As a result of this attitude, minor problems get bigger and complicated. Universal law encourages us to support people in trouble and for us Muslims it is a religious duty and obligation.

Last week security agencies quelled a riot staged by a group of girls inside the Dar Al-Fatayat in Makkah, a rescue home for juveniles under the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, as they went berserk and broke office windows and furniture when officials refused to listen to their demands.

The girls were upset over their relatives' refusal to take them back home after serving their time at the shelter.

Police detained nine girls following the unrest. After investigations, the prosecutor asked police to release the girls but they refused to leave the detention center.

The girls did not want to return to Dar Al-Fatayat due to the worse treatment they received from its officials. I would like to back the stand of the National Society for Human Rights in the case. The society blamed the excesses of Dar Al-Fatayat officials in creating a situation that put the girls in jail.

I believe that the file of Dar Al-Fatayat's inmates is a sensitive and complicated one. Such rescue homes have become notorious not only in Makkah but in many other parts of the country also due to their poor services and inhumane treatment of the inmates.

When a girl runs away from home or commits a crime, her family and her society including the Dar officials will not be ready to forgive her. It is a fact that most officials of these shelter homes are not qualified to run such facilities as they do not know how to treat their inmates.

The main problems being faced by girls at these homes are mistreatment and harassment by officials, in addition to the poor quality of food. Their officials are not ready to take any action to improve the services until the terrace collapses or the inmates go violent. When it comes to matters involving girls, the response by official authorities are often weak.

We refuse to admit the fact that big problems start from small ones. Our negligence in solving small problems often leads to major catastrophes.

Some sociologists and psychologists have suggested a number of solutions for the problem without even considering whether they would be practical or not. They called for taking the issue to the executive court to force the girls' families to receive them or the intervention of the governorate to reconcile family members. They also suggested blocking the benefits to the father in order to force him to accept the girl or make him to sign an undertaking that he would not torture her.

All these solutions are temporary and will not satisfy the girls who face an unknown future and who are afraid of returning to their homes. Officials have to find viable solutions that would serve not only families but also the society. Officials often ignore the fact that the girls have run away from their homes because of violence and harsh treatment.

Returning the girls to their families by force will not solve the problem but will make it more complicated. In order to find a viable solution we have to change our direction 180 degrees instead of rotating within the same circle. Keeping these girls in jail or in shelter homes after the completion of their sentence is tantamount to punishing them for no reason.

The higher authorities should give instructions to release them or facilitate their affairs without any guardian. Rehabilitation does not mean torture or criminal-like treatment. Counseling will not be enough to change the mindset of these girls. Rather they require education and training to strengthen their capabilities and find suitable jobs.

The continuation of girls in shelter homes without being received by their families can be considered a failure of the system and the ministry should change its strategy to cope with new developments. I think that it should prepare an alternative plan in coordination with the human rights society.

The ministry should not keep the girls in shelter homes for more than a month after they completed their term and must hand them over to their families or provide them with employment if there is a problem in the family's structure.

Work will bring out the hidden capabilities of these girls and improve their personality. It will also teach them new things, which they have never learned before.

Employment will also give such girls the feeling of doing something constructive and will enhance their self-confidence. It will change the families' perception toward these girls whose relationship with others will change for the better. It will transform them into useful members of society.

Situations and individual requirements have changed and the state as a whole is in the process of transformation. If officials fail to solve the minor human rights issues, it will become a big problem.

The issue of the inmates of Dar Al-Fatayat is a sensitive one and we have not yet found a reasonable or just solution. So far we have failed to address the basic issue. Moreover, an all-male committee will not be able to understand the problems and difficulties of these girls and they do not even know the danger of putting these young girls in prison for long because of the difficult family situation.