I never got around to covering the rest of Prince Charles‘ and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall‘s tour to Oman, The United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain (I covered the first few days here). Rebecca English at the Daily Mail joined the royal couple on tour and got some excellent quotes from Camilla as she addressed the issue of ‘female empowerment’ in the region.
Speaking at a reception in the British Embassy in the Bahranian capital of Manama, Camilla spoke of the seismic changes she has seen in the region since she first visited nine years ago:
“I have seen a huge change since then, especially here and in the UAE [United Arab Emirates], you can see how they have really progressed. They [the women] have got a lot of the top jobs now, they are highly respected and they are working alongside the men.”
Camilla was given an all-female team of bodyguards – who are trained in martial arts and close quarters fighting techniques as well as defensive and evasive maneuvers – while in the UAE. Camilla said of the team:
“It’s fascinating. It is quite extraordinary to have them. I have never had four women looking after me [and] they are the most incredible women. The first one had climbed Everest. I said ‘how long did it take?’ and she said 16 days! It’s quite remarkable.”
On the penultimate day of the tour, Camilla visited the Supreme Council for Women – which consists of sixteen women from a wide range of backgrounds who work with the Bahraini government and ensure that the status of women is given due prominence. Government ministries are required to consult with the Council before taking any decisions that might impact women and since its creation in 2001 Bahraini women have obtained the right to vote and participate in elections.
Camilla spoke to dozens of women in various fields such as : the judiciary, the media, aviation and engineering, academics, and medicine, as well as the country’s first ever Paralympic medalist, Fatima Nizam, who won gold in the shotput at Rio. Camilla spoke of the impression the visit left on her, saying:
“They have caught up with everything here. I remember saying before how clever the ladies out here were but they are so well educated and such clever people. They are happy and have very high powered jobs. And they juggle four or five children as well. I don’t know how they do it.”
On the final day of the tour, Camilla visited the Dar Al Amam Women’s Refuge Centre in Bahrain. At the refuge, Camilla also spoke to workers involved in helping women who have suffered abuse in the home, and earlier in the week Camilla met child victims of physical abuse and trafficking during a visit to The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.
During a round table discussion, Camilla asked about how many convictions there had been in court and was told that most women are encouraged to try mediation. Camilla then asked:
“What if there has been a great deal of violence or indeed death, which happens in the UK. I think we have as many as two deaths per week as a result of domestic violence.”
Camilla also asked if there is a helpline in the country. Camilla was told that, currently, family cases go to the main judicial court in Manama but plans are in place to create a family court. To which Camilla said: “I hope it happens quickly.” Camilla then asked:
“These women, victims of domestic abuse, are they able to tell their story so it can be published in the media because the more people that read about it, the more others come out of the shadows and talk about it themselves.”
She was told that the issue is a sensitive one and that women are encouraged to hide their identity to tell their story.
Afterward, Huda Ebrahim Al Mahmood, director of the refuge, said of Camilla:
“I was really impressed by her interest. She is really keen to know about experiences. Her comments and questions were very interesting and encouraging. It makes us more open. The UK are advanced in this and they have a lot of experience. I am impressed by her humbleness. She made us feel open and able to talk, she is such a nice person.”
You can read the full article at the Daily Mail.
The photos of Camilla in tan are from her November 11 visit to Dal Al Aman Woman’s Refuge Centre. The photo of Camilla in silver is from a November 10 reception at the British Embassy in Bahrain, and the photo of Camilla in white with gold embroidery is from a November 7 ‘UK/UAE Year of Creative Collaboration Launch’ in United Arab Emirates.