‘Freedom at night’ hit by imposing night curfews

Ahmed Al Majaida And ?farhana Chowdhury
Filed on October 11, 2010

DUBAI — Like it or not, night curfews are something parents impose upon their children to ensure they are safe and home on time.

But despite good intentions, the deadline creates frustration and the feeling of being suffocated among some. Take Abdulla Samir Dali for example. The 23-year-old student said he used to return home during the wee hours of the morning when he lived at his university dormitory.

“My father lost track of my curfew as I told him I was in bed while being out in Jumairah cafes,” he said. But after a poor academic performance, his family took stern measures to put him back on track.

“Things have dramatically changed when I failed my courses during my bachelors. My father held me under strict control,” he said. Samir was shifted from his former university and dormitory accommodation in Sharjah, and was forced to live with his parents in Abu Dhabi.

“My friends made fun of me for going home early. That was a miserable life for three years but now after excelling at my studies, my father eased his way in treating me like a child, now I can stay past the curfew,” he said.

Ady Badawi said his parents do not mind him being out late as long as he informs them on his whereabouts.

“I do not face any problems with my family, yet I personally feel it is better to go home early,” said the 21-year-old.

While boys seem to have an easier time with curbing curfews, girls, on the other hand, face strictness, according to Shaza Ridzwan, a 16-year-old, whose father forces her to come home by 9pm.

“Most of my friends get out of their homes around 6pm. That leaves me with less than three hours to spend with them. I understand that parents put on curfews because they’re concerned but the friends I go out with are trustworthy and have been introduced to my family. If we’re supposed to be careful all the time then we will never learn or be able to live life to the fullest,” she said.

Yusuf A. Stapic, a 20-year-old said he is content with the curfew timings his parents have set. “Usually I hang out with friends at evening—after the Magrib prayer—and return home around 12 - 1am. Although that is a convenient time to me, my parents would usually not ask me where I was at or what time I arrived home. I also have to bring up that, before going to university my parents were firmer about the places and the time to arrive home. However since being 20 years-old, they consider and treat me more freely and more of an adult. I think in general, it’s okay for young people to stay out until midnight sharp—which my parents also suggest I do. I think the younger a child is in age, the shorter the time limit for him/her to stay out should be, as he/she would have weaker mental and physical capabilities to handle trouble outside home,” he said.

Looking at things from a parent’s perspective, homemaker Hamida Sharmin said her reasons for enforcing a curfew on her children are mainly of traditional values.

“I don’t like my daughter staying out late because first of all, it doesn’t give a good impression to people. In our society, we believe that only young women who are up to no good stay out late. I don’t want my child to be mistaken for a bad person,” she said, adding that she also imposes a curfew of 10pm to her son as well, to be fair.

Fatmah H., 20, said she has to be home by 10.30pm, and weekends latest by 11pm.

“Most young Emirati ladies fall under strict curfew rules. I would be punished if I came back home late but I can stay out late only during birthday parties because my parents know I’m at my friend’s house,” she said. “Some girls that I know, tell parents they are going to bed, then sneak out to see their friends at late hours, then arrive home just before the parents wake up for morning prayers,” she said.Yusuf added that the hangout area plays an important role on the time youths should return home.

“I think that if a youngster is to be out late, particular places are to be avoided,” he said. — /

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