Article source co-authored with Johanna HIGGS : Sexual Harassment: From Australia to Morocco, It’s a Problem

Morocco is a largely traditional Muslim society where women are judged on the way they dress. Most women are subject to a kind of intuitive checklist where it is decided whether her clothing makes her eligible to be respected or not, at least in the eyes of some arrogant and disrespectful men.

Are her pants tight or loose? Is the skirt under or above the knee? How long are the sleeves? Is she walking with heels? How bold is her make up?

For men who believe that women should be dressed in Islamic clothing, there are “official” Hijab rules, where she is expected to cover in a certain way and ensure that her curves are not visible. If she does not comply with these rules, then some of these men may decide that it is acceptable to harass or insult her instead of “lowering their gaze” as they’re really asked to do by the Quran.

Some men think even that women should be thankful for their rude comments believing that their behavior is “flattering”. Yet, when asked if they would like to see their female relatives being the recipients of such “flattering” behavior, they often go silent or try to justify their argument with ridiculous statements.

In Australia, similar disrespectful attitudes and behavior exist. While the style of clothing that women are expected to adhere to may be a little different and less conservative than those in Morocco, the idea that a woman should be covered to a certain extent, in order to be respected, is the same.

There are still those who believe that if a woman is sexually assaulted or raped, and her skirt was ‘too short’, then she is to be blamed. Such attitudes translate into behavior that justifies sexual harassment.

According to the Australia Institute in 2015, 87% of women interviewed reported verbal or physical assault when walking in the street.

In Morocco, it is difficult to get accurate statistics on sexual harassment for a number of reasons. Most women do not report sexual harassment because they believe that they won’t be believed or will be accused of having provoked the aggressor. Many women are also fed up and feel that due to the relentless nature of the harassment, it won’t do any good to complain.

What is of the greatest concern however, is that some women have forgotten that they should have the right to walk in the street peacefully, so they just accept harassment as normal.

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