A 20-year-woman drowned at a beach in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after her father prevented lifeguards from rescuing her, fearing she would be dishonored if "strange" males touched her.
Lt. Col. Ahmed Burqibah, deputy director of Search and Rescue for Dubai Police, said the woman was swimming with her siblings when a pair of male lifeguards heard her shout for help, according to Emirates 24/7 News.
When the lifeguards attempted to reach the woman, her father stood in the way.
"The father was a tall and strong man. He started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them. He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than touched by a strange man," Burqibah said.
The loss of time, Burqibah said, was fatal.
"She died, unfortunately, at a time when she had a chance to live, especially that the rescue men were so close to her to pull her out of the water."
The woman's father was arrested and charged after the incident.
The death of the young woman prompted Waseem Ahmed, director of risk at Dubai Festival City — a residential and business complex — to discuss the need for female lifeguards along the Gulf.
"Organizations and governments must employ certified female lifeguards to deal with females which in most cases is already in place whether it's government or private sector," he told Hotelier Middle East.
While female lifeguards may have prevented the death of the woman, Ahmed acknowledges that a shift in understanding the job of a lifeguard needs to happen.
"It is equally important to create an awareness amongst the community that the role of a lifeguard is that of a life-saver like a doctor and if extreme cases when female lifeguards are not available male lifeguards must act or else we risk losing human life."