Captain’s Corner: Giving women security as homeowners
The security of a roof over our heads is a basic right that is assured for most people. In Bahrain, the government has a long-term plan to ensure that every Bahraini citizen owns a home and it is a challenge that has met with considerable success.
The recent argument facing Parliament about the right of needy women to a home of their own is, therefore, a bit puzzling. Women who are single, widowed or divorced currently get temporary housing in low-rent units which they cannot own technically but which assures them of housing security for life.
Of course, this status changes when they enter into matrimony because then it is considered that the husband and wife are a family unit and should take their place in the queue for housing like other citizens.
This makes providing needy women with permanent homes a tricky situation according to some. What happens if a woman who is single, divorced or widowed is given fast-track treatment to own a home and then she gets married? Will she be deemed to have got the home under unfair circumstances?
I think such a line of thinking is absurd. Correctly, the Supreme Council for Women has urged the law-makers to ensure that vulnerable women are treated with respect and given the extra benefit to make up for their vulnerability. Bahrain’s Constitution puts women’s status as the cornerstone of the Bahraini family on a pedestal and all the labour laws, for example, are created in the Kingdom with the role of women as caregivers being of paramount.
When this is so, I believe that women who are the heads of their families due to circumstances and without the support of men must be given the right to have special access to housing of their own as owners instead of just as permanent tenants. To deny them this opportunity for permanent security just because they might marry in the future is to shut the door on their happiness and their role as wife and mother which is a valuable contribution to our society and Bahrain’s progress.
Parliament must keep this in mind when making long-term decisions about the status of these needy women as home-owners.
(The author Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism)
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood