Defending The Fairer Sex: That Is What Is Expected From A Civilized Society

06 August 2015

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

TWO girls, out for a stroll on the Corniche waterfront in Jeddah during the Eid holidays found themselves quickly surrounded and hounded by a crowd of pestering youth.

The terrifying ordeal the girls went through was captured on many of the mobile phone cameras and soon uploaded on social media.

The unruly crowd pushing and taunting the girls has been described as a wolf pack trying to ensnare its victims. And from the expressions on the girls' faces it is obvious that they were indeed victims and nothing else.

Reaction from the authorities in general has been positive. Following the outcry, the governor of the province has ordered an immediate investigation into the matter and to bring the culprits to the fore.

There have been published reports that some of those involved in chasing and harassing the girls have been rounded up and arrested.

What is interesting is some of the reaction of readers who commented on the story when it first broke out. One questioned why the two girls were walking alone and therefore inviting "unwanted attention?" She added that "they should have known better."

A male wondered if they were asking for it! He elaborated that "females, alone or in a small group, in any country, should use their common sense, and stay away from a place where there are huge crowd of males."

Invoking his interpretations and beliefs, another added that "a woman cannot go out alone without a male guardian (Mahram). At least now women will understand why Islam insists on a guardian. Allah created man and woman and knowing his creations, made it compulsory for a woman not to be out alone." He concluded by asking all to ‘fear Allah.'

A Mr. Khan wanted to know why they were out alone and without a man. He concluded that they were seeking attention. A reader calling herself Umm Mamou was more direct. She wrote that "females of all ages should know that there are always men ready to harass them whether they are dressed modestly or not. That said, they should make every effort to protect themselves… I were one of those ladies I'd blame myself and those men because this the reality of this world we live in. We must police ourselves."

In the opinion of such people, the girls were at fault, plain and simple. To live and breathe and walk freely by the beach is a crime if one happens to be a female.

Because a segment of this ‘special' yet twisted society says so. In fact to be a woman is a crime unless she is shrouded and stored away somewhere private. Why? Because such people will charge that women incite men to evil deeds. It is always the women's fault.

Such statements disgust me. It hides a sickness in our society that needs to be addressed. It is obvious that the teachings in our ‘special' society have failed us.

There are several ways to go about it and cloaking women away from the public eye is not one of them. What is needed clear and defined anti-harassment laws that are publicly posted everywhere and which define the measure of punishment for the harassment of females.

Naming and shaming offenders has to be considered as a means to bring to the attention of the relatives of the offenders the deviant natures of these harassers or ‘wolves.'

As in other countries, the widespread use of CCTV must be implemented and monitored by security authorizes. This should help prevent future incidences or track down offenders much more easily.

Jail sentences should be slapped down hard and on the males who are caught. The females should stop being blamed for simply being women.

Clerics, teachers and other extreme fundamentalists who promote the concept that women are a source of evil should be rounded up and brought to task.
It is no use pretending that such people do not exist. Their pronounced messages of alarm and distress at the mingling of genders is one contributing cause to the deviant behavior of our youth.

We can collectively put a stop to females being victims of men's malicious and immoral acts. Every women should have the right to walk down a path alone or in the company of another female without the fear of being accosted or judged.

That is what is expected from a civilized society.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 


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