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Author Topic: Harassment across Arab world drives women inside  (Read 4034 times)
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« on: Dec 16, 2009 07:35 PM »


This is so so sad. Shows that our emphasis on "outer dress for women" needs to change to "modesty and haya". Really disgusting really.

Harassment across Arab world drives women inside



CAIRO – The sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab world is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes, said activists at the first-ever regional conference addressing the once taboo topic.

Activists from 17 countries across the region met in Cairo for a two-day conference ending Monday and concluded that harassment was unchecked across the region because laws don't punish it, women don't report it and the authorities ignore it.

The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, is a daily experience women in the region face and makes them wary of going into public spaces, whether it's the streets or jobs, the participants said. It happens regardless of what women are wearing.

With more and more women in schools, the workplace and politics, roles have changed but often traditional attitudes have not. Experts said in some places, like Egypt, harassment appears sometimes to be out of vengeance, from men blaming women for denied work opportunities.

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."

Statistics on harassment in the region have until recently been nonexistent, but a series of studies presented at the conference hinted at the widespread nature of the problem.

As many as 90 percent of Yemeni women say they have been harassed, while in Egypt, out of a sample of 1,000, 83 percent reported being verbally or physically abused.

A study in Lebanon reported that more than 30 percent of women said they had been harassed there.

"We are facing a phenomena that is limiting women's right to move ... and is threatening women's participation in all walks of life," said Nehad Abul Komsan, an Egyptian activist who organized the event with funding from the U.N. and the Swedish development agency.

Harassment has long been a problem in Mideast nations. But it was little discussed until three years ago, when blogs gave posted amateur videos showing a crowd of men assaulting women in downtown Cairo during a major Muslim holiday in one of the most shocking harassment incidents in the region.

The public outcry sparked an unprecedented public acknowledgment of the problem in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, and drove the Egyptian government to consider two draft bills addressing sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment, including verbal and physical assault, has been specifically criminalized in only half a dozen Arab countries over the past five years. Most of the 22 Arab states outlaw overtly violent acts like rape or lewd acts in public areas, according to a study by Abul Komsan.

Participants at the conference said men are threatened by an increasingly active female labor force, with conservatives laying the blame for harassment on women's dress and behavior.

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.

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 transpiration.

Where segregation between the sexes is the norm and women are sheltered by religious or tribal customs, cases of sexual harassment are still common at homes and in the times when women must venture out, whether to markets, hospitals or government offices.

In Yemen, where nearly all women are covered from head to toe, activist Amal Basha said 90 percent of women in a published study reported harassment, specifically pinching.

"The religious leaders are always blaming the women, making them live in a constant state of fear because out there, someone is following them," she said.

If a harassment case is reported in Yemen, Basha added, traditional leaders interfere to cover it up, remove the evidence or terrorize the victim.

In Saudi Arabia, another country where women cover themselves completely and are nearly totally segregated from men in public life, women report harassment as well, according to Saudi activist Majid al-Eissa.

His organization, the National Family Safety Program, has been helping draft a law criminalizing violence against women in the conservative kingdom, where flirting can often cross the line into outright assault. Discussion of the law begins Tuesday.

"It will take time especially in this part of the world to absorb the gender mixture and the role each gender can play in society," he said. "We are coping with changes (of modern life), except in our minds."
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 17, 2009 03:32 AM »

Asalam Alaikum, this is sad news. It's bad in Afghanistan as well. I saw it firsthand when I went to Afghanistan this past summer. May Allah guide these brothers.

Assalamu Alaikum
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 17, 2009 08:08 PM »

walaikum salaam,

Afghanistan is such a beautiful country. It is such a shame what they have gone through the last 20 years up until now. Not to get into a banned topic (taliban) but what I can see this as, is a symptom of the emphasis on the outer form throughout the Islamic world instead of emphasizing the inner character. Even when these women are wearing full niqab or burka they are harassed and treated like objects. The beautiful teachings of Islamic haya and modesty don't seem to matter Sad
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 17, 2009 08:22 PM »

From the Holy Quran, they'll use what benefits them and ignore the rest. I find it sad as many in Afghanistan can't read or write so it's practically impossible for them to learn about Islam themselves. Their only resource they have is what others are doing and preaching.

Assalamu Alaikum
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 27, 2009 06:00 AM »

salam


My two pence worth, we've stopped teaching our boys the importance of lowering the gaze and instead it's all about what women should or should not be wearing, men do not have their part drummed into them, so anything they do is automatically blamed on women instead.

How can there possibly be any justification for a mans role in harassing (and this goes beyond harassment) a woman, by laying the entire blame at the victims door.
It's like if someone commits murder, well you know the dead guy made me do it!!!


Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 27, 2009 09:33 AM »

It is like that Kuwaiti wedding burning thread.
"The only reason I burned those women and children to death was my ex's sisters were mean to me"

Their are two reasons why those men do what they do and if either of the two reasons are removed they will stop doing it:
They find it enjoyable.
They know they will get away with it.

They need to be punished for what they do. Both by the law and on the scene of the crime. If doing that meant the police will investigate and prosecute like they investigate and prosecute people who give food to Palestinians it would reduce this crime. If Women who are victims of this crime respond with screams, slaps and scratches and witnesses respond with lynchings it would eliminate this crime. That is because the crime will no longer be enjoyable and they know they will not get away with it.
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