‘Men Grope Our Breasts, Butts During Hajj’, Say Muslim Women

Some Muslim women have alleged sexual abuse and harassment while performing Hajj in the Muslim holy land of Mecca. The women- five of them – told their experiences to Cable Network News. The women said a revelation by a Pakistani woman who shared how she was sexually molested during Hajj in viral on Facebook last month encouraged them to equally tell their own experiences.

Asra Nadeem, a Pakistani woman living in the US, told CNN, she performed Hajj in 2006 at age 21 years. Nadeem said she went to Mecca, after her first time there, to perform Umrah.  “I was on my own, doing tawaf around the Kaaba”, she said.

“I was next to the Kaaba and somebody grabbed my bum. I thought it was just the crowd; everyone was pushing. But then, when I moved up, somebody grabbed my boobs.

“I turned my head and I saw this guy just smirking at me. I couldn’t do anything, and he was still holding my breast. So, I yelled at him, and then people started pushing me forward, shouting “yalla” (“hurry up”).

“I reported the incident to the first two guards that I saw but both of them did not speak English and told me to move along,” she allegedly said.

Moreover, the report also has the account of an anonymous British woman, now living in Asia. She said, “I had never been sexually assaulted before I went to Mecca, in 2007 when I was 32”.

“The first time it happened I was heading into the Grand Mosque to perform tawaf. A man was heading out, towards the courtyard, and as he approached me he outstretched his arm and grabbed my breast. It wasn’t a clumsy brush. It was a grab. It was forceful and it hurt. He didn’t let go immediately. He squeezed and was looking at me the whole time”, she said.

She added that the assault repeated itself on another visit to the Grand Mosque.

“I felt something pressing into my lower spine. I turned around and saw it was a man and realized he was pressing his erection into me. I ran off and found a policeman and told him (in English) what had happened. He shooed me away,” she stated.

Kabbah

“The third time I was in a side street looking at Hajj-related merchandise. I felt a sharp jab from behind. An old man had put his hand between my buttocks with such force that his fingers were almost inside me. It happened really fast and I cried out in shock. He looked at me and smiled and said “Alhamdulillah” [“Praise to God”].”

Moreover, another anonymous woman from Indonesia told the CNN she was harassed at age17 in 2011. She said it began with catcalls from some men, which she ignored.

She continued: “When I did tawaf around the Kaaba, another pilgrim walked behind me and stuck his erect penis into my back. I felt angry and unsafe.

“I haven’t come back for Umrah/Hajj. I am not sure that I would, she said.

A fourth woman – an Egyptian whose name was shielded – said she was 13 when she was harassed while performing Umrah. “At the Stoning of the Devil area in Mina, just east of Mecca. In the midst of the crowd, I felt someone grab my boobs, I looked back and it was a man with his wife next to him.”

The fifth woman, named Anooshe Mushtaq, a Pakistani living in Australia, said it happened to her when she just 10 years old.

“When we entered the Kaaba it was very crowded. Suddenly a young man groped me from behind. I felt extremely uncomfortable. I grabbed my mother’s hand and moved in front of her. I didn’t know if I should tell my mum or not so I just kept quiet,” she said

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia promulgated a “Royal Order” in September 2017 to outlaw sexual harassment.

 

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