Man gave birth to religion to seek sanctuary in when everything else in their lives fails. It is the one institution that imposes customs and guides the way for those who have lost their path. So when you set out on a journey to seek divine intervention, the last thing you expect is to experience assault.
Of the five staunch pillars of Islam, Hajj, i.e. a pilgrimage to the holy land of Mecca is one of the most important ones. After the horrific rape-murder case of little Zainab, women are now sharing their stories of experiencing sexual harassment even in holy places like Hajj.
Mona Eltahawy, a feminist author who focuses on writing and speaking about the issues faced by Arabs and Muslim women is sharing numerous stories of women’s account of experiencing sexual assault in holy places like, but not restricted to, Hajj.
I am glad to see women are speaking out about being sexually harassed during Hajj. Several years ago, i shared my own experience with sexual assault during the pilgrimage (see following tweets) https://t.co/7A5CeJngEy h/t @jwildeboer #MeToo
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) February 5, 2018
Years ago, in her book “Headscarves and Hymens”, the Egyptian-American writer talks about the reasons why the Middle East needs a sexual revolution. In the same book, she highlights her own experience of sexual assault. Ahe was 15 and terrified to tell her parents.
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) February 5, 2018
So many women came forth fearlessly to share their stories. I’m only listing some of them here for you to see and read for yourself.
1. This brave girl who shared her experience in complete detail. Due to the backlash she received for it, she deactivated her account and then decided against it.
*I was afraid to share this because it might hurt your religious sentiments*.While performing my tawaaf around the…
2. For the fear of God and sin, have some shame.
I was looking for souvenirs for my family. I was accompanied by several other women. And then this man just started to flirt and grabbed my hands tightly. eying me from head to toe and caressing my hand. It happened only a few feet from Nabawi #metoo
— CFX A41A-B, SAT | VIXX FA @ 📌 (@djenanggulo) February 6, 2018
3. Sexual harassment is garbed in robes of indifference and accidents.
When I visited the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the man lending “modest” robes to women touched my breasts. It took me several hours to shake my denial that it had happened. I also don’t talk about it so people won’t use my experience to justify Islamophobia. #metoo
— Dr. NOPE (@reallyHibbs) February 6, 2018
4. Mosque or temple, what difference does it make? Sexual predators see no religion.
Absolutely. When I went to Benares (holy city, holiest of), what I really remember is what felt like thousands of male hands reaching for my fourteen year old body. @monaeltahawy Please speak it. 🙂 https://t.co/jPwbsuSjAY
— Chaya Bhuvaneswar (@chayab77) February 6, 2018
5. How does the age justify a ‘bad touch’?
I was 12 when a local priest groped me while trying to make my parents understand that there were faults in my stars. He touched my breasts in their presence. And they told me that since the priest was 60 yrs old, it wasn't a bad touch. Well..
— Kalyani Kamat 🌈 (@Thebakonmaverik) February 6, 2018
6. Hard to believe but true, nonetheless.
I’ve been doing tawaaf last year in Umrah, it wasn’t even crowded and many was pushing their body against mine and touching me with their hands I actually got terrified and thought omg that couldn’t be happening even in this holy spot! #metoo
— Yasmine Fathelbab (@Yazzzmine) February 6, 2018
Mona’s thread sparked a chain of conversations and soon people started sharing more stories using #MosqueMeToo.
If you’re not paying attention, @monaeltahawy has catapulted a #MosqueMeToo movement for all Muslim sisters who’ve endured sexual assault in holy contexts. The backlash from misogynists is unsurprising, but her responses of unrelenting spine & righteous-rage are a site to behold!
— Ariän El-Taher (@ArianElTaher) February 8, 2018
1. It doesn’t have to be just you, it can happen to those with you too.
Another time, the seller in front of Masjidil Haram called my Mom “Hey beautiful, lets go inside my shop” and tried to touch her hands and drag her. My Mom shouted at him. It’s so disgusting. #MosqueMeToo
— Anggi Lagorio (@AnggiAngguni) February 6, 2018
2. Imagine having to stop going for your ritualistic prayers to avoid these experiences.
Had to stop going for Taraweeh and Qiyam one Ramadan because of some gentlemen. Stayed mum because I thought no one'd believe me, or I'd be accused of having an overactive imagination. #MosqueMeToo is our skeleton in the closet.
— Kali (@maimoonarahman) February 6, 2018
3. Young girls and old, the experience doesn’t change.
Each time my mom and her sisters went to Hajj, they were groped—disgusting ppl w/no morals/“deen”; toxic patriarchy; keep doing what you’re doing, Mona. #MosqueMeToo
— Hassan Saleh (@hass_saleh) February 8, 2018
A religious journey is supposed to be a safe escape from the clutches of our society and problems. It is supposed to help you get closer to God and thereby find inner peace.
Women are not safe even on their religious journey. Although this thread highlights the incidents faced by Muslim women at Hajj and other holy places, sexual harassment is not restricted to just that. It is everywhere you see. The only difference is that we’re scared to confront it.