“Service” to the UHJ – Contribution of Ladies. An Open Letter to all Friends

One of my friends received this email and sent it to me. It outlines the grief of a father whose is observing what is happening to women in the name of service to the UHJ.  Do read it completely. I urge Bahais to circulate this letter and also non-Bahais who are well wishers of Bahais to make this letter as popular as possible.

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From: R***** P***** Date: Tue, Aug 13, 2013

Subject: Exploitation of Girls in the Holy Land (Haifa)

Dear Friends,

This is a letter from a troubled father to all Friends in the Community. Hopefully this letter will bring to light certain concerns about the Conduct of our beloved UHJ. Of course facts would be presented before drawing conclusions.

Friends, we hear time and again appeals from the UHJ for volunteers at the Holy Land. With deep sincerity the message is circulated by the respected LSAs. With equal sincerity some of our youth, purely for serving the Faith, volunteer. The Local Community is overjoyed when certain youth are selected for serving at Holy Land. Indeed, it is a representation of the local community – an honour. However the tragedy starts when after serving at Holy Land for about a decade, the now “middle aged” volunteer returns. In private discussions, these volunteers tell their woes. Some of the common points that emerge are :

1. The Selection Process: The volunteers selected are youths in early twenties and mostly females. This reality never strikes us, but when we ponder on certain long term serving volunteers we indeed come to know of this gender preference (eg in India we have examples of Shraddha Singh, Elisa Rassiwalla, Yasmin Rassiwallah, Shraddha Telli, Pooja Puthran and some others).

2. Service of Volunteers : The Volunteers are assigned as secretaries / under-studies to certain chiefs of departments. Interestingly all the girl volunteers work under middle-aged male bosses.

3. Grooming – What goes into it?: The enthusiastic and simple girls, while being induced and groomed for the work, are subtly conveyed the ‘other expectations’. There ‘other expectations’ include spending long hours with bosses in privacy, not resisting advances by bosses (as the poor man is over loaded with various assignments of the UHJ, and thereby needs some ‘relaxation’ as there is no outlet for ‘relaxation’ of the bosses, except the volunteers) and always having a cheerful presence.

4. Feelings of the volunteers: These volunteers who are thousands of miles away from their parents, in a foreign country and almost in captivity in the huge premise, feel terribly lonely. Having no one to confide, except those who re-affirm the ‘expectations’ and need for serving the Faith with ‘Body’ and ‘Soul’, most volunteers feel that best way out is to continue the service without complaints. Atleast, with the stipend, they are not a burden on their parents. The volunteer is shunted across various departments every couple of years. 5. The worst stage: Probably the worst stage in the career of the volunteer, is when she approaches her 40’s. Now the youth, the charm, the vigour starts fading. With age, and with this exposure in the name of service, the so–far unmarried volunteer, develops medical complications. She is now a liability to the Holy Land and UHJ and is very gently shown the door. The volunteer, trudges her way back to India, only to experience a sense of guilt and a life and a career lost. She develops depression, especially when she finds that how cunningly the Persian and Zoroastrian background Baha’is, did not send their children of same age for service but had motivated the simple Indian Baha’i parents for the same. The children of these Persian and Zoroastrian Bahai parents develop into settled professionals and have an established family, while the poor volunteer has returned with absolute loss.

Friends, as a father who cannot see the plight of his daughter, I appeal to all to be cautious in sending their daughters, as volunteers to the Holy Land. It is indeed saddening, how this exploitation is happening at the most Holy place for the Bahais. The UHJ is indeed a den of vice.

Friends, we have made a supreme sacrifice by leaving our religion and accepting the Bahai Faith. Little did we know about the skeletons in the cupboard. The situation now is that we are forced to see the tragic plight of our unmarried daughters in our old age without anyone to fall back. Our relatives and friends of our previous religion have forsaken us and the Bahais have exploited us. Indeed this is a cumulative loss.

Friends lets unite and expose the mis-deeds so that we can save the next generation. Lets bring this awareness globally, as our daughters have narrated that volunteers come to the Holy Land for service from all over the world – in particular from developing and under-developed countries, and undergo same experience. Lets campaign globally about reducing the male dominance at the Holy Land and UHJ, especially in responsible positions. Lets campaign that volunteers selected should be predominantly males. Lets clean the Faith of shameful mal-practices.

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About imranshaykh
I am a student of comparative religion with a special interest in Islam and The Bahai Faith

2 Responses to “Service” to the UHJ – Contribution of Ladies. An Open Letter to all Friends

  1. Carol says:

    This reads like fiction (i.e. a lie). I know a number of young women who have served in the Holy Land. NONE of them had such experiences. I have also visited the Holy Land and met many women who served there, so did not see the “male dominance” you report and certainly have never heard of any such behavior by anyone. Such behavior is forbidden in the Baha’i Faith. From Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith:

    “A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behavior and conduct of all Baha’is, both in their social relations with the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labors and meritorious exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message, and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It must be upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá’í summer school and any other occasions on which Bahá’í community life is organized and fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission of the Bahá’í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá’í community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the youth of their own country.

    Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one’s carnal desires and corrupt inclinations. It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures. It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs. It condemns the prostitution of art and of literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage, infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices. It can tolerate no compromise with the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its example, the pernicious character of such theories, the falsity of such standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits, and the sacrilegious character of such excesses.”

    peace

    Carol

    • imranshaykh says:

      Dear Carol:

      Thank you for writing to The Bahai Insider and offering your views. You are probably fortunate to have not gone through the horrible experience which has been outlined in the letter. That however does not mean that such episodes do not happen. The letter has given names of individual Bahais who have gone through the experience. So where is the question of this being fiction. You can look up these names and their history and choose for yourself to believe or reject their stories.

      I have attended Bahai conferences for a long time to know what goes on there. Here is some stuff to get you started –
      http://bahai-scandals.blogspot.com/
      http://bahaiculture.blogspot.com/

      So much for Shoghi Effendi’s statements!

      peace
      Imran Shaykh
      http://www.bahaiawareness.com

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