Oman prisoners granted conjugal visits from spouses in historic ruling

The court ruling will grant inmates in two Oman prisons the right to times of intimacy with their spouses without the fear of being watched (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Oman prisoners granted conjugal visits from spouses in historic ruling

DUBAI: An Omani court has ruled that inmates at two prisons can have conjugal visits from their spouses in a historic decision, national daily Times of Oman reported.

The ruling, which is said to be a first for the country, will require the Royal Oman Police Service to establish “special places” in the prisons as soon as possible and to “enable the prisoner to exercise the right of legal privacy with their spouse.”

The court ruling went on to add that the prison authorities would be required to observe “the privacy of the meeting… ensuring human dignity.”

Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Zadjali, president of Oman Lawyers Association and a member of Majlis Al Shoura told the newspaper that the ruling was a “step in the right direction” improving the morale of inmates.

“It was immensely important to legalize conjugal visits in Oman, to enable a husband and wife to meet when one of them is serving a prison term. This is a prisoner’s right,” he said.

Conjugal visits allow for a prisoner – male or female – to receive a visit from their spouse in private for several hours, in a room allocated for the purposes of intimacy.
The ruling was made after a couple filed a request to the Oman appeal courts in December, 2017, in which they asked for conjugal visits every three months.
Al-Zadjali told the newspaper it remained to be seen how the order would be implemented in terms of the frequency and duration of the visits.


A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

Updated 20 July 2018
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A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island: Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails, men want beards.
The Navy said last week that servicewomen could sport ponytails, lock hairstyles, or ropelike strands, and wider hair buns, reversing a policy that long forbade females from letting their hair down.
Servicemen immediately chimed in on social media, asking the Navy if they could grow beards. A sailor’s Facebook post with a #WeWantBeards hashtag was shared thousands of times.
Beards were banned in 1984. The Navy wanted professional-looking sailors who could wear firefighting masks and breathing apparatuses without interference.
The Navy says that’s still the case. Still, some hope the change in female grooming standards opens the door.
Travis Rader, a 29-year-old naval physical security officer, said allowing beards would boost morale for men, just like allowing ponytails and locks has for women. There are two things that would make many Navy men happy: beards and better boots, he added.
Rader had a 6-inch-long beard when he joined the Navy after high school.
“You take something away from somebody, and they want it more,” said Rader, a master-at-arms assigned to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.
The Navy announced it was adding grooming options for women during a Facebook Live event. Many black women had asked the Navy to be more inclusive of different hair textures. The Navy had the standards in place because of safety concerns and to ensure everyone maintained a uniform, professional look.
Rader was one of several sailors who wrote in the comments section of the Facebook Live event to press for beards. Bill Williams, a 20-year-old naval information systems technician, commented too, asking why sailors can’t have beards if bearded civilian firefighters wear masks.
Williams said he thinks a nice, well-groomed beard looks very professional.
“It’d be great because I know that when I shave for multiple days in a row, it starts to really hurt,” said Williams, who works at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Hampton Roads in Virginia.
Sailors can get permission to grow a beard for religious reasons or if they have a skin condition that’s irritated by shaving. Mustaches are allowed as long as they are trimmed and neat.
“Handlebar mustaches, goatees, beards or eccentricities are not permitted,” the policy states. The Navy isn’t currently considering changing that.
Safety continues to be the primary concern, said Lt. J.G. Stuart Phillips, a spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. He referenced a 2016 study by the Naval Safety Center, which concluded that facial hair affects the proper fit and performance of respirators.