It was just his face
she remembers looking at
not his clothes or shoes
or even how tall he was, the obvious,
she didn’t pay attention to the obvious,
but how could she?
it was just his face, the smirk
that played on his lips
before transforming into
a full evil grin,
baring all his teeth,
his mouth seemed to be moving
but she couldn’t understand
what he was “saying”
but how could she?
Her mind couldn’t think beyond
the way he looked at her,
but then again,
he didn’t just look at her
it wasn’t “just a look”
it could never have been “just a look”.
His eyes, those demonic eyes
travelled up and down her body
making her flinch inwardly,
making her want to shirk to invisibility,
her thoughts shifting in an instant
“is something wrong with my clothes?
there must be something wrong with…”
frantically trying to adjust them,
fix them, only to realize
there was nothing wrong with her
clothing in the first place.
“I should ignore him”
keeping her eyes down,
in vain attempts to distract her mind,
but his obscenities did not fail
to make their way to her ears
snatching away her smile,
making her feel dirty inside out.
“I should tell someone about it.
but what will I tell them?
they’ll think I’m crazy,
sick, petty, weak
for being uncomfortable
by someone’s mere presence.”
It did make her sick,
destroying her confidence,
slicing her into a million pieces.
reducing her to silence.
Guilt ate away at her,
as he continued staring,
passing offensive remarks,
making vulgar gestures
and she kept blaming herself,
not realizing that she was the one
* * *
To some people this may seem blown out of proportion but regardless of how trivial anyone might think it to be, I’m not going to beat around the bush about it or be ashamed or apologetic for bringing it up.
Catcalling, street harrassment, or any kind of unsolicited verbal or physical advances of a sexual nature are an offense.
And being on the receiving end of such reprehensible behavior is no joke. I can’t even express how much it gets on my nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m way past the point of being upset or scared of derogatory remarks and stares of men who have NO sense of respect for women. I have realized that such unwanted attention comes with the territory of being a woman. I have learned to just ignore them. I don’t fear for myself.
But I fear for every little, innocent girl unaware that there exist people who will make her feel uncomfortable, embarrassed and unsafe. She will be made to feel unsafe to go anywhere unaccompanied. They will make her question the choices she makes in life, from the way she dresses to the way she speaks in public. They will be the reason she’ll have trust issues for the rest of her life. The reason she’ll second guess herself, the reason she’ll always feel scared and helpless around men…
It’s just sad. And disgusting.
Let me say loud and clear that this isn’t just about unwanted remarks shouted at women by men in passing cars or being whistled or stared at. Street harrassment goes far deeper than that. And it can happen to anyone regardless of age. And that’s something I find unsettling. While women who have reached their twenties can handle these things well, young girls are usually uninformed and unequipped when faced with such circumstances, which can leave strong imprints on their minds, and continue affecting their lives negatively. The experience can be almost traumatic.
Although there isn’t much that can be done to stop those who do such things from doing them, BUT we have to realize that our safety is our own responsibility. And, the first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one. We need to stop pretending that catcalling or street harassment isn’t a problem. We might not be able to give condescending retorts to the men who try to harass us or throw punches at them but we CAN show them that we’re not affected by their behavior in the slightest by simply ignoring them. But if need be, we shouldn’t hesitate to report them to the police.
Also, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
1. Make sure you are properly covered. Even if you’re walking to the grocery store that’s just one block away from your house. Women talk all the time about how it shouldn’t matter what clothes we wear, we deserve respect regardless and stuff. But here’s the thing, a woman in skimpy clothing is going to appear more attractive than the one wearing loose clothes. I’m not saying that fully covered women do not get catcalled, but the chances of that happening are greatly reduced.
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their Jalabib over their bodies. That will be better that they should be known so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:59)
There is no doubt that the woman who observes hijab completely (properly covers herself) and has the characteristics of chastity and modesty will protect herself and her honor. Also, Allah سبحانه و تعالى has promised to the women who observe complete hijab and protect their honour from haram (unlawful) things, forgiveness and a great reward .
2. Educate your children on the dangers of the outside world. I don’t think it’s wise to hide these things from kids in today’s world. It’s not safe anymore. Tell them about the “bad guys” and the ways they might try to harm them. Always make them feel comfortable to open up to you whatever it’s about and whenever they want to. If possible try to accompany them wherever they want to go. Don’t send them alone to the grocery, parks or playgrounds….I don’t know a thing about parenting so I may not be qualified to give advice on this matter but all I’m trying to say is that keep your children safe.
3. Express yourself. There’s no real point in bottling up your feelings and silently suffering. If you are a victim of abuse please know that you have every right to be heard. It wasnt your fault and nobody’s gonna judge you.
* * *
Remember me in your duas!