Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When your life is falling apart in the UAE, don't consider ending it all or you could end up in jail

Suicide is illegal here, Gulf News reports. There have been several high profile – and successful – suicide attempts in Dubai of late. Most notoriously, the first (and hopefully only) person to jump to his death from the Burj Dubai – reportedly after being denied a vacation request. A second man, like the first, from India, died after leaping off Jumeirah Lake Towers.

"Lawyer Eisa Bin Haidar said judges frequently slap fines on those who attempt suicide. Under Article 335 of the UAE Federal Penal Law, a suspect who attempted suicide faces a maximum of six months in prison and/or a maximum fine of Dh5,000."

At a press conference last night Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul general, said there had been 27 suicides recorded among the Indian community in Dubai and the Northern Emirates since the start of the year. 

Generally the media ignores suicides, out of an effort not to encourage others who might be considering trying to end their lives. But here, I believe the issue needs to be discussed in the context of a sponsorship system that too frequently squeezes people and leaves them feeling as if they have no options. 

Here, your work is everything: a visa sponsor, income and housing provider. "No objection" letters from an employer are required for almost everything. There is very little room to manoeuvre, particularly for those who do not have some independent financial flexibility. 
I agree with Mr Verma when he says "more could be done". 
"A company is the first port of call. They are interacting with workers. It is the primary responsibility of companies."

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