Cross-dressing seen as a ‘serious menace to society’
A leading academic has sounded an alarm against the growing trend of cross-dressers among boys and girls, saying that it is a “serious menace to society”.
Speaking in the monthly Lakom Al Karar TV programme, telecast on Friday night by Qatar TV, Dr Saif al-Hajari, the deputy chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, described the emerging trend of “manly women” and “womanly men” as a “foreign trend” which, he said, had invaded the Qatari and Gulf communities as part of the “globalization winds”.
“This is an issue which can harm all our social and religious values. It needs some sort of bravery to address it. I have never imagined that one day I can see such behavioral deviations in our streets, schools or universities,” Dr al-Hajari said.
The episode, which discussed behavioral deviances among youths, was part of the heated debate over the issue of “Boyat” (girls dressing and acting like boys).
Transgendered people, who reportedly are seen in public places, were the subject of a heated debate during the past few weeks as clerics, educationists and sociologists cautioned against the new trend spreading among girls and boys.
Dr al-Hajari said that the efforts of both the state and society are required to address the trend.
“There is a lack of legislation organizing the public code of ethics. There is a need to develop our legislations in this regard,” he said.
However, he also blamed it on what he called “foreign fingers and groups” seeking to cause harm to youngsters.
“These cases of behavioral deviations we have are not working alone. They co-ordinate with similar groups on regional and international levels,” he added.
To a question whether foreign education institutes established in Qatar are responsible for the spread of the phenomenon, Dr al-Hajari said that Qatar Foundation, which is the umbrella of foreign universities in Qatar, should set up a mechanism to protect young people in such universities from “invading behaviors”.
“We need to educate the administrative and teaching staff of these universities on the special traits of our society.
“Some foreign schools and universities hire staff hailing from communities that do not see any problem in what we think of as deviations. This is a problem that should be dealt with.”
The participating audience, mostly students, was “divided” on how to address the emerging trend. Some of them suggested capital punishment for those who indulged in “transgendered behavior”, while others said that the organizations concerned should reach out to these groups and deal with them as patients.
“This problem can only be addressed if the community rejects this type of youth and punishes them,” a participant said.
However, another participant said that students who have such behavioral deviations should be engaged rather than isolated.
Another participant called for launching a public campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of behavioral deviances as well as educating families on how to protect their children against the social menace.
On the motion “This house believes that the concerned institutions and ministries are performing their duties to correct the behavioral deviations”, 100% of the audience voted that these institutions had failed to do their duties in this regard.
In a survey, which was conducted by the Amina bint Wahab Secondary School for Women, and included 500 girls aged between 15-20, a majority of 45% of the surveyed students saw those girls behaving like boys as victims, while 40% said they are guilty.
In a move to curb the phenomenon, the presenter of the programme, Mohamed al-Marri, announced that HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad has established a new social rehabilitation center “Al Awin” to deal with such cases.
A debate about fashion in Qatar
CROSS-DRESSING is on the rise among young Qataris. The local press says that more tradition-minded locals are upset by the growing number of young women affecting a masculine style of dress, baggy trousers, short hair and deep voices. These women, who call themselves boyat, which translates as both tomboy and transsexual (and is derived from the English word boy), are being seen in schools and on university campuses where some are said to harass their straighter-laced sisters.
In an episode of a talk show on Qatari television, called Lakom al Karar (The Decision is Yours), a leading academic said that the “manly women” phenomenon was part of a “foreign trend” brought into Qatar and the Gulf by globalization. Foreign teachers, the internet and satellite television have been blamed. So have foreign housemaids, for badly influencing children in their care.
The studio audience was divided over how to respond. Some called for the death penalty for cross-dressers, while others favored medical treatment. A rehabilitation centre for Qatari boyat has been set up, but a local report says that as many as 70% of them refuse to give up their “abnormal behavior”.
It is not just Qataris who are rattled. A year ago the ministry of social affairs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched a campaign against “masculine women”. The project, entitled “Excuse me, I’m a girl”, involved workshops, lectures and television programmes, stressing the virtues of femininity and raising awareness of the presumed dangers of women looking like men. An emirates’ foundation is helping to fund a research project on “gender identity disorder among Emirati youth”.
One official describes the “deviant behavior” of the boyat as a “menace” to society. But others sound less fazed. An American university lecturer in the region says the short hair and gym shoes worn by these young women would look perfectly normal on an American campus. That is just what unnerves the traditionalists.