For Immediate Release: May 27, 2022
New Campaign Urges “Real Housewives of Dubai” Producers to End Silence on Violence Against Women and Homophobia by Rulers of Dubai and United Arab Emirates
A coalition of twelve human rights, women’s rights, and peace organizations is calling on Andy Cohen and the executives behind next week’s June 1st launch of “Real Housewives of Dubai” to publicly oppose the violence against women and homophobic laws perpetrated by the rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).
In their letter, the organizations call on Bravo, NBCUniversal, and Truly Original executives to take specific immediate steps to end their silence. Dubai is one of several mini-monarchies within the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), an oil dictatorship in the Arabian Peninsula of the Middle East.
“By picking Dubai for the next Real Housewives series, Andy Cohen and Bravo TV are helping Dubai’s dictator hide his human rights crimes,” said Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director of Freedom Forward, a human rights campaign organization that has launched successful boycotts of the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. “Real Housewives fans deserve to know that Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum kidnapped his own adult daughters after they tried to escape his clutches. One of his daughters, Princess Shamsa, has been held captive for over 20 years and has reportedly tried to commit suicide several times.”
The letter documents specific human rights crimes that the rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have committed or are accused of committing, including:
- Kidnapping women: The ruler of Dubai kidnapped his own adult daughters and has held one of them in drugged captivity for over 20 years.
- Rape: A top member of the U.A.E. ruling family still hasn’t been investigated or prosecuted after being accused of rape by British national Caitlin McNamara.
- War in Yemen: The rulers of Dubai and the U.A.E. have helped kill thousands of women and men through their war in the country of Yemen.
- Homophobia: The U.A.E. criminal code includes language on “sin,” “indecency,” and “sodomy” that can be used to persecute gay or lesbian couples and LGBTQ communities.
The just-launched campaign will combine specific human rights demands with escalating online activism and social media pressure to educate “Real Housewives” fans and demand action by Bravo, NBCUniversal, and Truly Original. Reporters and editors can access soon-to-be released #RHODubai and #DictatorTV social media campaign graphics here.
“The rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have destroyed the lives of thousands of women through their brutal war in Yemen. An estimated 4 million people in Yemen have been forced to flee their homes, 79% of which are women and children, according to the UNHCR. This effectively destroys the ability of Yemeni mothers to live safely with their children. Andy Cohen and Bravo should not be helping the U.A.E. dictatorship hide its human rights crimes,” said Katie Kelshaw, Coordinator for Action Corps.
“It’s shocking that Andy Cohen and Bravo are giving Dubai’s rulers a blank check of free publicity. The rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have kidnapped their own adult daughters and have been accused of rape. Dubai and the U.A.E. are run by homophobic and misogynistic leaders that all Real Housewives fans should stay as far away from as possible,” said Danaka Katovich, National Co-Director for CODEPINK, a women-led peace organization.
There are four key demands for Andy Cohen and “Real Housewives of Dubai” executives:
1) Reveal whether they were paid by the U.A.E. dictatorship,
2) Run a human rights disclaimer before each Real Housewives of Dubai episode,
3) Donate their profits to human rights organizations focused on Dubai and the U.A.E., and
4) Teach Real Housewives fans about the human rights reality in the U.A.E. and Dubai, including hosting a seminar at BravoCon.
“Imagine if Andy Cohen and Bravo decided to launch The Real Housewives of Moscow during this terrible time for the people of Ukraine? The rulers of the U.A.E. and Dubai are responsible for a horrible war in Yemen that has killed countless women and men. Bravo and NBCUniversal are insulting the intelligence of their viewers by whitewashing the human rights violations and military adventures of the U.A.E. dictatorship,” said Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action.
“Why can’t we see a Bravo show on “The Women of Yemen?” The women of Dubai face the rules of a misogynistic and homophobic government. Meanwhile, the women of Yemen have lived for seven years with the horrors of seeing their children under the rubble of their homes, schools and even hospitals, in a war supported by the rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates,” said Mary Anne Mercer, Coordinator, Health Advocacy International.
“The executives at NBCUniversal and Bravo should be ashamed to be doing propaganda for the brutal, sexist U.A.E. dictatorship. This show should be canceled, or at a minimum, must be paired with an in-depth look at the millions of courageous Yemeni mothers who are trying to keep their families alive in the face of the horrific U.A.E.-backed war and blockade,” said Sarah Burns, Senior Fellow, Just Foreign Policy.
“The U.A.E. monarchy will use The Real Housewives of Dubai to hide the grim reality of life for Dubai’s vast servant class of migrant workers.” Abused and exploited, Dubai’s foreign workers are the ones who prop up the excesses of the U.A.E.’s elites. But so long as the U.A.E.’s rulers can hide this ugly reality behind a wall of celebrity distraction, they will ignore the plight of Dubai’s thousands of workers,” said Nicholas McGeehan, director of FairSquare Research and Projects, a labor rights organization.
The organizations that signed the letter are Freedom Forward, Action Corps, Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues, CODEPINK, European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights, FairSquare, Health Advocacy International, Human Rights Sentinel, Just Foreign Policy, Last Mile4D, Peace Action, and ReThinking Foreign Policy.