How Dubai’s Princess Latifa Fought And Lost The Battle Against Patriarchy

Women – wherever and whoever they are – have fought over the years never to conform to what sexism wanted out of them. Rather, we have gone out to have an equal say for our body and mind, which does make scare a lot of people about some kind of retaliation. But, that was never the point of equality – and to be sexist towards any gender is not something that’s looked upon in any rule-book of feminism.

Being told what, when, why and how to do so many things – we, as Indians, are not that far from the Arabs when it comes to women’s right. I was born in such a family – and I know what it means to be born with the unrealistic standards and expectations of a conservative and religious family, at a time when women around the world are evolving into great personalities in so many fields, and accomplishing so much.

However, with rape cases like Nirbhaya’s, and the ones in Unnao and Kathua, we have come to the realisation that the road to equality is indeed long with many struggles that need to be overcome by our so-called modern society – and the reason for this is?

Relevantly, we can add Princess Latifa to this list as well. She was not Indian, but she did have something to do with the Indian coast in her last known days.

Though it’s not making much of an international headline, the story about the miserable and unfortunate princess is still there on the internet thanks to the efforts of certain news agencies. Sheika Latifa Al Maktoum, one of the daughters of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emirati ruler of Dubai, with his lesser-known and older of the six wives, tried to run away and escape from the hardcore patriarchal society with its strict Sharia laws dictating day-to-day life. The UAE is the kind of a place where fighting for basic rights is a struggle. It’s also been known to violate human rights, even though the situation is probably not as bad as their neighbour, Saudi Arabia, where women got the right to vote in 2015 – and even more recently, to drive. The news of her escape has been kept under the sheets to avoid us from seeing the dirty reality of what happens in these rich and powerful Arab countries.

India played the role of the saviour quite nicely without bringing up the Islam issue, while fighting over one of the worst cases communal rape around the same time. No, they didn’t save the abused and tortured princess, who had already contacted lawyers and begged for political asylum. They only repaired their reputation and relationship with the the UAE, no matter how ‘Islamic’ they are. India captured the ship, fired the guns and her fate remains unknown – probably to be eventually forgotten, and according to many, silenced forever.

I have not forgotten you, Princess Latifa, and I will remember you until the day I die as your story is as important as mine and the rest of the world. You hail from a rich, powerful and influential monarchist family with all the restrictions and rules to obey in an Islamic country. And it must have been very difficult to even breathe in such an atmosphere. I feel sorry for you and all those who have to suffer, no matter how rich, old, young or poor they are. Did being rich and young help her escape from the evils of patriarchy and age-old laws and rules that withhold women from existing as equals in an advanced and modern society?

The video has been released by Escape from Dubai on YouTube, where you can watch and listen to her say the ‘final words’, her eyes seeing and realising what awaits her very well. It was very scary and horrifying for me to go through the video, as she’s hardly a couple of years older than me. What exactly is happening, the more we advance into a futuristic era ushered by science and technology? How long is it going to be until we are actually equal, no matter what? When is this maddening devilry going to end?

I am making this video because this could be the last video I make. If I don’t make it out, I hope that some change will come.” – Sheika Latifa Al Maktoum, Princess of UAE.

Update: According to a report on NDTV, a source close to the Dubai government has said that Princess Latifa has now been ‘brought back’ to the UAE.