Feminism | Posted by Rabha Ashry on 06/20/2012

Arrested For Having A Boyfriend

I almost got arrested today. I don’t want to write about it. I don’t want to think about it but I feel like I have to put it down somewhere.

I almost got arrested today.

This is what happened. I was upset so my boyfriend took me to my favorite place when I’m in this kind of mood. A somewhat shady end of the city place that’s usually nice and private. We were in the backseat of the car. We weren’t doing anything. He was sitting and I was lying on my side with my head in his lap and he had his arm resting on my waist. He was worried that I was cold so he took off his shirt in one of his moments of chivalry and covered me with it. I felt safe and loved and happy and lucky to have him. I felt like I could actually close my eyes and sleep and not be plagued with all the things that have been plaguing me lately. He was sweet and gentle and gentlemanly, stroking my hair, telling me it will be ok, not touching any part of my body he shouldn’t be touching without my explicit permission. It was a nice moment.

I noticed that he noticed something outside the window. “What’s happening?” I whispered, but I don’t think he heard me. He rolled down the window and my heart started pounding. He was telling someone in his almost inexplicable heavy accent that I was just his little sister and that I was feeling sick and cold. I didn’t want to look up. I wanted to make myself as small as possible.

Whoever it was outside told him to get out and the expression on his face scared me. He got out. I sat up. I looked out of the window to find two policemen. My mouth went dry and my hands started shaking.

“Raise your arms,” they barked at him. They were rough and rude. He was apologizing and assuring them that we didn’t do anything wrong. What does wrong mean here? He didn’t hurt me? I didn’t hurt him? No. Wrong was us lying there together comforting each other when we weren’t related. We were violating laws by being in a relationship not bound by marriage. Laws the government of UAE instated to protect its citizens from themselves and their judgment. Laws rooted in the government’s own version of ultra-conservative Islam.

“What’s your name?” they asked me and I told them. I told them I was his sixteen year old sister, sick and upset, and he was comforting me. They laughed. They threatened us with arrest. “Let your parents pick you up from the police station.”

We told them the truth. Most of it anyways. We told them our names and ages and that we were friends and I was upset and he was comforting me. I was fully dressed and he had put his shirt back on.

They separated us. I got the bad cop. He was lucky enough to get the good one. The cop threatened me with arrests and virginity tests and ruined reputations and the life of an exile, no family, no home, no university, no hope, no future. I told him I had nothing to hide. I raised my head to look him straight in the eye and told him I didn’t do anything wrong, firmly.

He laughed. I didn’t look away. I didn’t move. He changed tactics and took on the role of the concerned brother, father, mentor, teacher. What would people think? He said, what would they say? I told him I did nothing wrong.

He laughed and he threatened and I could see my whole future, everything I have worked so hard to achieve, falling down in front of my eyes, because of a fucked up society with fucked up laws and fucked up prejudices.

A third cop joined them. Tall and gangly and weary of their antics, or so it seemed. They were off in the distance, the men conversing while the bad cop cornered me. They called for him, the cop that was bullying me, and he joined them. The tall cop shook his head and waved his hand in the air and I knew it was over, we were free to go. The bad cop came back with more words of wisdom to impart before granting me the rest of my life. “I’m just a concerned friend,” he assured me and I nodded. He left. They got in the cars and left.

I am still shaking.

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  • Gigi @ at 6:19 pm, June 20th, 2012

    This is heart wrenchingly sad. =[ I’m so sorry that these type of laws even exist, and surprised I myself didn’t know about them. It’s outrageous what happened to you and your boyfriend. I hope you eventually get out of a society that doesn’t allow personal freedoms.

  • Crystal @ at 7:02 pm, June 20th, 2012

    co-signing to Gigi

    Also: Scary shit! I’d have probably vomited in fear at the point where you looked him in the eye and spoke that you hadn’t done anything wrong. I’m proud of you for not breaking down in front of a bully-creep.

  • Becky @ at 10:55 pm, June 21st, 2012

    Im so sorry, that must have been scary. Its bad enough with the bullying but to combine that with religion and the police… Im glad you stood up for yourself. Well done. I would have been scared shitless.

  • Emma E @ at 12:18 pm, June 22nd, 2012

    The fuck. Ugh. I am so sorry. That’s awful and screwed up and crappy. You’re incredibly brave–when he was threatening you with all that ‘no future’ stuff, I would’ve been curled up in a ball on the floor.

  • James F @ at 2:11 pm, July 2nd, 2012

    Fuck the police. Their only job is to protect societal norms, [and property] this means harassing and murdering the poor, women and people of color. I am so sorry this happened to you when you were vulnerable.

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