#MosqueMeToo: Women Call Out Sexual Harassment at Holy Places
#MosqueMeToo makes it clear that eating chowmein or wearing tight jeans have nothing to do with sexual harassment.
Following the #MeToo movement that brought to light the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, Muslim women have taken to Twitter to share incidents of sexual misconduct at sacred places, especially during the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj, using the hashtag #MosqueMeToo.
A woman named Sabica Khan took to Facebook to share her #MeToo moment at Hajj, only to find out that she wasn’t alone. She wrote:
"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 of 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 again alone.
It's sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I've been harrased, 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 similar experience there but this incident has unfortunately left me feeling upset."
For unknown reasons, the post was later removed from Facebook.
The movement kicked off after Egyptian-American feminist and journalist Mona Eltahawy talked about her experience of sexual assault during Hajj in 2013.
People from the community started tweeting their experiences with #MosqueMeToo and the hashtag was tweeted more than 2,000 times in less than 24 hours. The hashtag even made it to the top 10 trends of Farsi Twitter.
The #MeToo initiative highlighted how rampant and widespread sexual harassment is, especially in workplaces, but #MosqueMeToo brings the epidemic under a whole new light. It shows that sexual harassment is not subject to what a woman is wearing or eating or who she is with and where.
#MosqueMeToo victims say that they can be assaulted even in the holiest of places, where they are dressed fully and are praying.
An estimate of 2 million Muslims undertake Hajj every year, resulting in huge crowds in the holy city of Mecca. Many women recall being inappropriately touched, groped or being rubbed against in the crowd during Hajj.
Many other women from the Muslim community joined the #MosqueMeToo movement and tweeted their appalling experiences.
In a society that blames the victim, the need to address the loopholes and speaking out is pressing.
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