#MosqueMeToo is taking Twitter by a storm as several women describe their vile experiences of sexual harassment in the holy land of Mecca, while performing the pilgrimage.
It is an unfortunate state of affairs that is prevalent in the world today; it is commonplace for women, teenagers and children to be harassed in public places like markets, shopping malls, movie theaters, etc. However, it is even more – or at least equally – disturbing when a woman faces such unpleasant experiences in places of worship like mosques.
A woman named Sabica Khan has initiated the trend of the hashtag, #MosqueMeToo, by sharing her horrible experience of harassment during Hajj – the annual pilgrimage for Muslims. As part of the pilgrimage, Muslims from all over the world make rounds (Tawaaf) around the House of Allah (Kaaba).
She took to her Facebook and stated:
“*I was afraid to share this because it might hurt your religious sentiments.*
While performing my Tawaaf around the Kaaba after Isha prayer, something really weird happened. It was my 3rd tawaf, and I felt a hand on my waist. I thought it was just an innocent mistake. I completely ignored. Then… I felt it again. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I kept moving. During my 6th tawaf, I suddenly felt something aggressively poking my butt, I froze, unsure whether it was intentional. I ignored and just kept moving slowly because the crowd was huge. I even tried to turn around but woefully couldn’t. When I reached the Yemeni corner, someone tried to grab and pinch my butt. I decided to stop there. Grabbed his hand and threw it off me *couldn’t move or turn around* I was literally petrified. Couldn’t even escape, so I stood, and turned around as much as I could, to see what’s happening, I turned around but… couldn’t see who it was.
I felt so violated. I felt unable to speak out. Stayed quiet because I knew no one would trust me, or nobody would take it seriously, except my mum. So I told her everything when I returned to the hotel room. She was incredibly confused and devastated. After this incident, she never allowed me to go there alone.
It’s sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I’ve been harassed, not once, not twice, but thrice. My entire experience at the holy city is overshadowed by this horrible incident.
I believe it’s totally okay and important to be open about harassment. Don’t know how many of you had a similar experience there but this incident has unfortunately left me feeling upset.”
The Facebook post cannot be viewed anymore as it has either been taken down or hidden by its creator.
It’s devastating to learn that Sabica is not the only one. Moments later, other victims of harassment took their Twitter handles and penned down their unfortunate experiences during Hajj.
One person wrote, “#MosqueMeToo I was sexually harassed in Umrah during Tawaf. I thought it was accidental but he kept groping me. I mean if men can’t discipline themselves even in the HOLIEST place on earth then I’ve truly lost hope in men to ever stop harassing us. We just want to be safe.”
Another person narrated her experience and said, “One day, somebody touched my bumps and squeezed. I was shocked. I saw the guy behind me and he pretended doing nothing and moved. I was shocked that what I did just silently cry. It happened in Mecca. #MosqueMeToo.”
A third stated, “I was sexually harassed at 21 when I was doing Tawaaf, right there in the most sacred place! The fact that it happened there, in that place where it’s supposed to be the holiest and safest sanctuary, broke me so bad that I never recovered from it! #MosqueMeToo.”
Another person took the opportunity to reaffirm the widely accepted but incorrect link between female modesty and sexual harassment.
She said, “The MosqueMeToo shows once again that sexual harassment and assault has nothing to do with female modesty. It is not because of what a woman is wearing it is because of how men are taught to look at and think of women.”
What are your thoughts?