Sexual harassment on rise in Arab world -

Sexual harassment on rise in Arab world

Even wearing a niqab doesn’t leave women immune


According to activists at a Cairo conference on women’s public place in the Arab world—the first-ever regional summit addressing the issue—sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes. Delegates at the 17-nation gathering concluded that harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, was unchecked across the region because laws don’t punish it, women don’t report it and the authorities ignore it. Conservative religious leaders blame the problem on the women, for being provocative in dress or manner. But even delegates from Yemen, where virtually every female is covered from head to toe, said that as many as 90 per cent of Yemeni women say they have been harassed. Amal Madbouli, who wears the conservative face veil or niqab, told The Associated Press that despite her dress, she is harassed and described how a man came after her in the streets of her neighborhood. “He hissed at me and kept asking me if I wanted to go with him to a quieter area, and to give him my phone number,” said Madbouli, a mother of two. “This is a national security issue. I am a mother, and I want to be reassured when my daughters go out on the streets.” Abul Komsan described how one of the victims of harassment she interviewed told her she had taken on the full-face veil to stave off the hassle. “She told me ‘I have put on the niqab. By God, what more can I do so they leave me alone,'” she said, quoting the woman. Some even said they were reconsidering going to work or school because of the constant harassment in the streets and on public transportation. In Syria, men from traditional homes go shopping in the market place instead of female family members to spare them harassment, said Sherifa Zuhur, a Lebanese-American academic at the conference. Open discussion of the harassment issue first emerged in Egypt three years ago, after blogs gave broad publicity to amateur videos showing men assaulting women in downtown Cairo during a major Muslim holiday.

The Guardian

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Sexual harassment on rise in Arab world

  1. This isn't surprising really. Making women cover themselves and hide away from society is unnatural. I lived in a more progressive country in the Middle east for 5 years, covered up in trousers and often head scarf, and was constantly harrassed when in public. Rape was common especially with the Asian female workers but nothing ever done about it; Fear of job loss and knowledge of male dominated law. Religious laws have left the men naive, depraved and arrogant.

  2. its fascinating that countries described like this are allowed into the united nations …i am sure it won't be like this forever as the world becomes more globalized

  3. I am a Canadian expat in Qatar and a lot of the men truly are pigs here and the law does nothing to stop it. Some of the worst assaults are against housemaids who have NO rights! The arabs just send the girl back to her home country after they destroy her and get another maid.
    Slavery is alive and well in the Middle East.

    • "Slavery is alive and well in the Middle East."

      Indeed, it is. I worked throughout the Middle East for 20 years. It is the same everywhere.

      When I see Muslim women in the West covered head-to-toe and led around by scowling Muslim men, I wonder what, exactly, is being globalized. I'm not as confident as wawaweewee, above, that as globalization proceeds women will find their circumstances improved, even in North America and Europe.

  4. This is so disgusting; it reminds me of this country in the 1950's. One day, in Jacksonville, FL, as my mother held my little hand, we were walking; when I noticed a young woman, dressed in office attire, ahead of us. She was walking as fast as she could, surrounded by sailors on leave, she was not able to get away from the young men who were leering and singing 'ain't she sweet…..'.

    My mother looked pained, she was pissed at this revolting scene, she told these punks they should be ashamed of themselves. The woman, in her 20's, smiled and pointed up the block; a policeman was walking his beat, and that's something from a bygone era, the guys finally drifted away; still singing ain't she sweet……

    I know it is not the same as being felt up on the bus or bullied in the street; but, it was not that long ago when a young woman could not even walk to work without being made to feel she was naked!

  5. Having spent more than a decade in and around the Middle East, most recently in Egypt, I agree with the comments in this regard. I watched from a restaurant one evening as two tourists waited for a taxi and car after car stopped – sometime double parking to get out and try and get the ladies in their car (the women wearing skirts – but not short skirts)- and the men were of the age where they would be married. My partner came over and gave up even going shopping without me as the harrasment was constently never ending. I am afraid to say this but with the influx of M.E families to Europe and N. America we will begin to see more of this on our own streets.