By Sarah Townsend
Lawyer Haifa Madani reportedly speaks out against proposal; causes outrage in parliament
A Bahraini lawyer has reportedly caused outrage in parliament after she warned that providing government housing for single women could encourage “immoral practices”.
Haifa Madani, legal adviser to Housing (Eskan) Bank, which provides financing for social housing, made the controversial comment during discussions on proposed amendments to Bahrain’s 40-year housing legislation on Sunday, according to Gulf Daily News.
The newspaper reported last week that the Shoura Council had approved early plans to provide government funded homes for single Bahraini women, including divorcees, widows and abandoned wives.
Dr Mohammed Hassan, secretary of the public utilities and environment affairs committee, said last Sunday that women deserved access to housing services regardless of their status.
But Madani was quoted as saying this week: “Giving homes to the mentioned range of women will open the door for the use of those housing units for immoral practices.”
Her comments provoked an angry response from the council – chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh reportedly ordered her comments to be struck from the register.
Madani later apologised. She said she had meant that more women could choose to remain single or leave their husbands if they knew they would have a home to go to. She also claimed the proposed criteria setting out which women would qualify were unclear.
“We are already giving Bahraini mothers married to expatriates homes since they have Bahraini children.
“But the case of abandoned wives is difficult since they are still married, which means they fall under the category of a normal family - making the husband the actual applicant.”
Council member Sheikh Jawad Bu Hussain, who is also a member of the Supreme Islamic Council, pointed out: “Some 'abandoned’ wives could be manipulative by declaring themselves abandoned to get a home - while their husbands get housing services for a second wife," he said.
Discussions on the proposed amendments will continue next week.