Even when wearing the full-face covering niqab and the billowy figure-destroying abaya, women in these Muslim lands cannot find peace from the hostile and sexist men. And we can understand why increasing numbers of women are choosing to wear this symbol of misogyny, as they are being compelled to do so through just such harassment. This situation represents a full-fledged human-rights crisis, but it seems as if because it’s “only women” involved no one cares. Fortunately, however, some agencies are stepping up, and these nations may end up with their first-ever legislation against “sexual harassment.” Hopefully, this type of protection will lead to even greater rights on behalf of women.
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….
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….
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….
Harassment has long been a problem in Mideast nations…
Sexual harassment, including verbal and physical assault, has been specifically criminalized in only half a dozen Arab countries over the past five years….
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….