Women sexualy harrassed in the holy land of Kaaba, Saudi Arabia

Many women took to social media complaining about sexual harrassment while they were performing their haj pilgrimage in Mecca, reported the Australian news portal.

The portal said the stream of accounts began when Sabica Khan, a Pakistani woman, wrote on Facebook about how she was assaulted next to the Kaaba, the building at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque, in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Khan said that she had been touched by different men while she performed tawaf — seven circles around the Kaaba — a mandatory part of the pilgrimage. She said the experience left her feeling violated and depressed.

“I thought it was just an innocent mistake. I completely ignored (it). Then I felt it again,” she said. “Then someone tried to grab and pinch my butt.”

She tried to stop the men but could not move because of the large crowds. “I was literally petrified … Couldn’t even escape, so I stood. I felt so violated. I felt unable to speak out,” she said.

“It’s sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I’ve been harassed, not once, not twice, but thrice.”

Ms Khan’s post was shared almost 2000 times and inspired other women to come forward with similar accounts. Some posted their accounts with the MeToo hashtag, which women have used around the world when talking about sexual harassment and accusations made against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Aziza, 37, who did not give her surname, said it was a common problem that all women doing the pilgrimage had to “put up with”.

“It happened to me and my family multiple times, being pinched or touched by male organs during the approach to (the Kaaba),” she said. “The first time I was just nine years old, so I didn’t really understand. My sister was 14 then and she told Mum, who realised both (of us) had been felt up

woman, wrote on Facebook about how she was assaulted next to the Kaaba, the building at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque, in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Khan said that she had been touched by different men while she performed tawaf — seven circles around the Kaaba — a mandatory part of the pilgrimage. She said the experience left her feeling violated and depressed.

“I thought it was just an innocent mistake. I completely ignored (it). Then I felt it again,” she said. “Then someone tried to grab and pinch my butt.”

She tried to stop the men but could not move because of the large crowds. “I was literally petrified … Couldn’t even escape, so I stood. I felt so violated. I felt unable to speak out,” she said.

“It’s sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I’ve been harassed, not once, not twice, but thrice.”

The australian news portal said Ms Khan’s post was shared almost 2000 times and inspired other women to come forward with similar accounts. Some posted their accounts with the MeToo hashtag, which women have used around the world when talking about sexual harassment and accusations made against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Aziza, 37, who did not give her surname, said it was a common problem that all women doing the pilgrimage had to “put up with”.

“It happened to me and my family multiple times, being pinched or touched by male organs during the approach to (the Kaaba),” she said. “The first time I was just nine years old, so I didn’t really understand. My sister was 14 then and she told Mum, who realised both (of us) had been felt up.”

Aziza, from Pakistan, said that her female relatives now avoid the crowded areas around the Kaaba. “We try to walk as fast as possible. We time our visit at low crowds,” she said.

Women usually make up just under half the total number of pilgrims who flock to Mecca each year to perform Haj, or to do umrah, a smaller pilgrimage. Last year, when Haj began on August 30, just over a million women attended, 43 per cent of all pilgrims.

Women said officers were stationed in the Grand Mosque and at key points along the routes, but that it was impossible to properly police such large crowds.

Some women have said that they are too ashamed or afraid to report the incidents in Saudi Arabia, where clerics frequently blame women for the harassment and violence they suffer. The authorities in Mecca were not available for comment.

Fatma Mohamed, who also wrote about her assault on Facebook, said that the attackers in Mecca “depend on this fear, the shock and the silence of women” to keep going.

Aziza urged the government of Saudi Arabia to implement new measures to protect and inform women. She said she hoped that there might be changes as the country’s ruling princes begin to implement more liberal reforms.

The country has put an end to certain restrictions for women over the past year. Women are now allowed to drive.

“If there is a spirit to improve things with the new reforms for women in Saudi then let us hope in some way this can be dealt with too,” she said.

Source: The Australian