Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Eid Harassment: No Longer Shocking

This year's Eid harassments came as no surprise to me. They were pretty much expected, and I stayed at home or only visited family accompanied by my father and brother, avoided the news like the plague so I wouldn't know what happened, at least not until the Eid is over.
If the photos published in Al Masry AlYoum and Al-Dostour show only boys from poorer social classes committing harassment, a colleague wrote on FB of how she was unsuspectingly harassed by a seemingly decent and well-educated guy in an uptown shopping mall for 4 or 5 minutes. She was too shocked to even yell back at him.
The comments sympathised with her and one ran: "There is nothing we can do".
Are you kidding me?
There is ALWAYS something you can do. I mean, enough is enough. This is not something which happens within average range or even "usually", it's like a thick black maggot that has totally gotten the better of a society. Totally. And against all this madness there is nothing you can do?
Any action has its consequences, unintended consequences for that matter. But no action at all...what does it lead to? Where does it take you too? Pain, shame, fear, disgust, depression. Just why would you let someone do that to you and make him get away with it.
Again, no one action is best. Even if you think calling the police and taking it all the way to courts is the right thing to do, you might not have supporting parents/partner, you might lose the case altogether, especially if there are no witnesses.
If you think yelling back and screaming is the answer, you might find little or no help from others. There might be no one else around in the first place.
But what is the alternative?
Feeling violated, angry, suspicious, having nightmares, getting sick and this really something you can take and do NOTHING about?
Harassers have got to taste some of their own poison. They have got to know it is NOT acceptable, it is NOT pleasure for a woman to be catcalled or abused. If you do not show him you're angry, how is he ever to know? If he didn't get yelled at in the middle of the street, how will he ever - hopefully - experience even a gram of shame or embarrasment for what he did?
Unfortunately, I do believe part of the reason why this problem is getting uglier by the day is women's reaction, or rather the lack thereof. I understand that it is shocking, I understand that it could be useless to fight back anyway. But then did you ever consider why ppl usually beat up a theif but rarely a harasser?
Ppl who have been stolen yell out loud, and passers-by gather to beat the shit out of him. The crime is known, this is one difference. The victim cries out...this is a difference.
Do it the Sayeda Zeinab style. My father is from Sayeda Zeinab (a modest Cairo neighbourhood) and he told me if a man exceeds the normal of mo3aksa, the girls call him names out loud...using swearwords even he would be embarassed to say. A man rarely continues harassing if he is publicly defamed this way!
I end up with a line from Nawara; if there is a queue of ppl hitting one another on the back of their heads, and suddenly one of them decides to turn around and slap the one who hit him instead of the one in front of him, wouldn't the beating stop?

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