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Full Tolerance for Sexual Harassment PDF Print E-mail
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Contributed by Yasmeen Al-Eryani, Yemen   
Sunday, 01 July 2007
Sexual_Harassment.jpgHe… … He gave her a lascivious stare. He complimented her on her eyes and posture. He touched her where she didn’t permit him. He told sexual jokes and spoke of erotic pictures. He teased and threatened.

He spread rumors about her unchaste behavior when she gave him the cold shoulder. He even went as far as sneaking into an office room when she was alone and locked it. He then came too close for words to describe and gave her a sleazy smile that made her skin crawl with disgust.

She…

… She pretended that his stares were not noticed and that his unwelcome compliments were not heard. She didn’t laugh at his inappropriate jokes and left the room when he walked in, but when he locked the door she was at his mercy, despite her fearful shaking body, with a skill of a magician or maybe the instinct of a prey fighting to survive, she snapped the key and ran out.

And…

… Blank… nothing! Like a prey in a jungle protected by no effective human laws, she kept the whole endeavor to herself, from the first lascivious stare (the first form of sexual harassment) to the first sexual assault in that locked office room.

It is true that sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, happens all around the globe, but here in Yemeni society our policy is far from being a zero tolerance policy, it’s a law of the jungle policy, i.e., keep away from the predator and you might be saved. In fact going out to work is deemed by some to be a reckless act by women to expose themselves to predators. Those who, God forbid, do not choose to stay in protected towers far, far away should pay the price of their recklessness.

In non-jungle terms, women have to constantly receive all sorts of sexual harassments – from mild ones to serious sexual assaults, with lips shut. A woman knows quite well that if she complains it will be her word against his, he will accuse her of being “indecent” and of befriending her fellow male workers, he’ll tell lies about her, and if he was her boss he may cold-heartedly fire her after shoving her deep into a big scandal.

Everyone around her will think she made a big scene to draw attention to herself.  They may dig into her past and find out that she was once seen smiling to a co-worker as she was handing him some files or perhaps came to work wearing a dress an inch tighter than it should be. So, she must be a sinner who is not entitled to any protection rights.

Women in this position – and there are probably more than we would like to admit, either quit and are blamed for leaving the house in the first place, or suck it up and face their predator for long working hours 5 days a week indefinitely.

Should we, as we’ve always done before, wrongly punish the victim for the predator’s misdeeds? Should we limit her movement and let the predator run loose? Should we blame her for not staying at home protected by 4 concrete walls? Should we continue using euphemisms to avoid the reality of female/male relations taking place in our streets, homes, factories and workplace and call them mere “Mu’akasat”? [1] Or is it time to stop giving excuses to those who are only familiar with an ethic lower than that of some animals and lose control at the sight of a woman?

Regardless of how attractive the woman is or how provocative her voice sounds when she speaks, it is the responsibility of every sane adult to not impose their raging desires on anyone who does not welcome them. If a man can’t help it, it is no one’s fault but his.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is not a freak phenomenon; it didn’t start in the workplace when women left their homes to pursue a career. It is a phenomenon with roots deeply planted in our society and is seen and experienced everywhere, on our male-claimed streets, markets, beaches, and rooftops, where women cannot escape a nasty comment, an unwelcome gawk or small pieces of paper with phone numbers miraculously falling into their purses. 

Regardless of their size, age, color, race or how much of their face is showing, women are sexually harassed and it has become a socially sanctioned obsession with anything that remotely resembles a female figure; an obsession followed by many, many justifications for sexually deprived and poor frustrated men who simply cannot help it and menace women driving those men mad by their mere presence.


Views: 37177

  Comments (20)
 1 Got the answer!!
Written by Osama, on 04-07-2007 07:50
In ancient times, when an army gets defeated, and its men taken prisoners, some of them would usually get castrated (castration: a procedure, surgical, chemical, or otherwise by which a male loses the functino of testes -- wikipedia [1]). People who undergo such procedures, are called eunuchs and would usually perform specific social functions such being women guardians or harem servants. They have no sex drive no more. 
 
I say, give each man 2 offences, after which Johnson must go; the man gets castrated by force, and the gov't pays for the operation. And I am not joking. Something similar would work beautifully if it can be used as ta3zeer in Sharia, and supported by law. As a taxpayer, I am willing to pay for such operations. 
 
[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunuch
 2 Noble Sinner
Written by Sameer Al-Nuzaili, on 04-07-2007 09:26
I think she deserve all what happened to her. Since most women of today by the name of liberty and freedom behave in a sexual ways. Looks at girls of today how they walking in the streets, speak, sitting or even speak on the cell phone. They, most of them, full of shameless. However, some of them they still covering their faces with modern Hijab. Of course this is not because they care about religion but because they will get problems with their families only. This is approved when a Yemeni girl participated in any abroad activity. The first thing to do is remove Islamic and traditional address and wear squeezed Jeans so that the foreigners people will say: Oh ! God , you are a civilized girl. But in fact you are a stupid and deceived one. I mean that girl which think imitates of west with everything but science is the civilization. Hi Yemeni girl, if boys bothers you, then be sure your body is a good petition! 
 
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 3 you got all wrong kiddo!
Written by a sister, on 04-07-2007 20:06
ummmm NO! Let me put it this way: 
Tellin your daughter to dress a certain way and wear the hijab and so forth by force WONT DO EVER!!! Those ladies you speak of did not understand its importance, honor, pride, modesty it brings to adhere to it. They were shoved to do it, but if they were brought up to do it on their own will, they'll never let go of their hijab even if you cut their throat...FACT!!! The west, her family, you (the man), or whatever, nothing will make her change her modest dress, because it becomes her sole identity!!!!!!!!! 
-some advice for bringing up your daughters Sameer.  
on another note, you'll be surprised to hear, some ladies in America are forced to NOT wear the hijab by their family...BUT THEY DO!!!!! I hope I've explained it at your level of mentality!!!
 4 well put Yasmeen
Written by a sister, on 04-07-2007 20:14
That is indeed a serious issue an it exists worldwide, developed or undeveloped countries. However society plays a huge role!!! What ever society allows is what will flourish on its grounds.
 5 Written by Yumna, on 04-07-2007 20:16
the issue here is not the hijab or how women dress. it's a serious issue that many women face in the workplace regardless of the way they dress, and interact with others. correct me if i'm wrong.. from my understanding there are no policies in place in Yemeni work environments to address sexual harassment complaints? which is especially frightening in a society where people live by their reputation.
 6 Written by Adeeb, on 04-07-2007 20:54
Dear friend osama, do not let your rage shadow your reasoning; castratation is such a sever punishment, even those who commit "zena" are not punished by it. Yet such low actions should not be tolerated. My friend, as indicated by Yasemeen, the problem is that our society reached such a point that ppl don't even react to such incidents. The argument presented by sameer above is a very good example of the common argument of how many in our society look at such issues. Our society is willing to let its dogs on such girls who are not necessarily bad, but simply not in agreement with the society's norms and accepted boundaries; and as expected these loose dogs won't restrict themselves to what the society had happily offered. Sometimes, you will be surprised to here some badmouthing some of their female colleagues whom they don't approve of; worse is that many respected, sometimes even "religious" won't bother to condemn such conversations, which I believe works as preamble and cover to what is worse.
 7 So what is the solution adeeb?
Written by Osama, on 04-07-2007 21:33
... If castration is not the answer, then what is Adeeb? Problem is, Zena takes the consent of two people, and hence it is not punished very severely. But in case of rape, the judge has the option of using the 7irabah 7add (and someone correct me if I am wrong), to make the punishment more severe. Those people are disturbing the peace in our societies, and need to be stopped. Few examples, and castration would be a great deterrant.
 8 act don't wait for protection
Written by sallam, on 05-07-2007 20:47
Well, I cannot claim to have a solution. I am very pessimistic when it comes to propose policies and laws; we are not implementing what we already have, let alone setting new ones. And acting individually will put a person especially "the victim" in this case in a very awkward and maybe worse situation as described in the article. I personally think the best way to face and challenge such behaviors in an organization is through collective work. Most organizations have some sort of an employees' body with the goal of protecting employees. Usually these bodies have the most respected individuals within an organization. If females collectively approached or formed these bodies in their organizations and tried to activate their roles, I think we could significantly restrict such behaviors.
 9 Written by Osama, on 07-07-2007 00:04
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 10 beautiful and wise article
Written by Ali, on 15-07-2007 13:19
one of the best article written by a yemeni woman i have ever read. 
thanks , and prticularly thanks for being you .. such broadminded yemeni girl
 11 Cause leads to the result!
Written by Adnan Al-Sakkaf, on 15-07-2007 16:51
In the beginning, mentioning the lady working around predators; a predator won't exist if the prey didnt!. Why should women choose full-men workplaces?!. Can't she find a much more safe and well-secured place?. 
Mixed workplaces mostly face such above-mentioned problems, as it seems to be a normal react against a cause. Logically, the CAUSE produces the RESULT. A QUESTION; why do these predators act that harsh? Its simply because there is a female prey standing infront of his face all long the day, acting her normal daily acts, and as its in the human nature, has the Shahwa,which has to be controlled and leaded to its suitable disposal, if the male could do that and control it, he'll feel honored, but if he loses control, it means he was weak against that because the inviter infront of him has a more powerful attraction. Go over the psychological state of the human nature and drill down the Shahwa concepts, stimulations and responses.  
So, to prevent the sexual harrasments (result) we should prevent the male and female thick mixtures in workplaces ( Cause). 
No need for the castrations or hitting blames on each gender, we should look at the root of the problem and find the cause or the reason behind all that. 
 
I'm just sharing the energy!
 12 Written by ant dary, on 16-07-2007 00:48
Beautiful article Yasmeen, that was extremely well written, and your point was effectivly voiced. 
 
In reply to some comments that made me sad i would like to say, 
alright, speaking of roots, dont you think the root of men's sexual attraction resides in their genitals. but what really makes me sad is that you condemn the women who had already put on a hidgab to protect herself, and not once blame the man.  
 
This is the way its suppose to be, a man should find it normal to keep his eyes off of a female colleague, not honored.  
 
and dont you think the desire to go to heaven should overcome any other desire even if the colleague decided to walk into work nude. 
 
shame on all people who condemn women for getting harassed
 13 modala5a
Written by Adnan Al-Sakkaf, on 16-07-2007 08:21
I didnt talk about women with hijab or without, I talked in general, as I was trying to say its a normal react against a sort of mixing. 
And if you want to refer to heaven and obligations, we should pay the full attention to the whole obligatory restrict, as women arent supposed to mix with men without *mahram*, that leads to heaven too, and thats what women ignores and see it as a kind of cruel restricion.  
As u see, its still on the same root, presence of the 'prey' will cause whatever. 
Nobody condemns women, such women condemn themselves putting themselves in such situations. 
 
I'm just sharing the energy!
 14 Written by ant dary, on 16-07-2007 11:28
all i was trying to say is, why is it "normal" in an arab society that a man cannot control himself 
 
and why is it seen as normal by many people, when instead of firing the man who has violated the law and someone elses life, those people see that the right course of action would be to no let women work with men, or making them "stay at home with the kids" 
 
lets...
 15 manash dari !!
Written by Adnan Al-Sakkaf, on 16-07-2007 14:43
Who on earth told you that its only in arab society? Its happening everywhere, but its more noticed in our societies as its almost holding a conservative atmoshphere. 
Work places are wide spread everything, education, health, women organizations, I havent mentioned anything about staying home, though most of us believe its not a shameful thing, as I could feel from ur words' way.
 16 Written by ant dary, on 16-07-2007 21:29
no no, what i meant, what i think the idea behind the article is, is that it is seen as normal, and it happens without anyone doing anything about it here...in yemen and arab countries i guess 
 
i have heard about so many incidents where a woman would report rape in a police station, but instead of hunting down the man who raped her, she would be labeled as a prostitute and put in prison right away... 
 
and then imagine a yemeni woman with a traditional family going to jail for and being labeled as a prostitute, the family would disown her. 
 
in some villages if a woman says she was raped, her own family would go as far as killing her to erase the dishonor... 
 
i know all these subjects are a bit off the issue, but the issue is how sexual harassment is dealt with in this particular culture, so yeh, sorry for the misunderstanding.
 17 again
Written by Adnan Al-Sakkaf, on 17-07-2007 08:21
Yes, but still, in yemen its still much better than many other arabic areas, as almost all yemenis hold some values no matter what were their ideological back grounds, you can still find some safety, and as I have seen in person and most of us did so, that women in yemen workplaces have special way of treatmen. 'Oh, hathee bent 3eeb, u shouldnt do that', and even more in the street markets when a woman gets teased or bothered, you will see tonns of fists paiting the guy's face.  
So please guys we better not misrepresent things in yemen according to one witnessing. 
Thanks Yasmeen for introducing such a critical social matter. 
 
God bless you All. 
 
I'm just sharing the energy!
 18 What about a source of income?
Written by ana ma3a dary, on 18-07-2007 02:36
Mr. Adnan, You do have some logical points, but these points only seem logical if you would apply it to a man's world. This issue is not a problem in the middle east, its a problem all around the globe. Howcome a little issue with a woman in Yemen should serve a punishment to an innocent, hard-working woman trying earn some money for her family? A saying very common in yemen, and I am sure you have heard of it, known as "I6olob Allah." 
As I said earlier, its a problem around the world, however other nations have managed to cope with this problem and better understand situations like this without misjustice towards either the man or woman. God has allowed woman to work with men, and there is a reason for that, because humans can interact and control themselves. Therefore, if mischievous behaviour tenses between two opposite genders in a work place, I believe it should be fair for the woman to keep her job and seeks protection to prevent this event from happening again.
 19 ana ma3 alwa8e3
Written by Adnan Al-Sakkaf, on 18-07-2007 08:22
"God has allowed woman to work with men," fatawa says women must not mix with men if they're not ma7arem. And give me any of the managements done by other nations to cope with such problems as u claimed, and what kind of achievmentss did they reach. 
Regarding to i6lob Allah, all of us should ne6lob Allah everywhere, but in suitable places, Ya5e women can manage schools and medical educational centres much better than many men. Why would they always choose men-crowded areas?!. 
After all, this case is really deep and requires a wide discussion sorting out points to clear up some thoughts. 
Thanks for comments guys;).. Lets share the energy, as im just sharing it ;)
 20 Written by ana ma3a dary, on 24-07-2007 22:46
the problem we face today, sir, is people lke you, and dont take this offensively. you tend to misunderstand religion and apply it in the wrong area. A lot of what god has said is misinterpreted. A workplace isnt necessarily a "men-crowded area.\" A workplace is a place for all kinds of people to interact (non sexually) to produce something, and earn a reward.  
If you think a woman should not mix with men in a job, where she only intends to work and not act as a whore, then your wrong. A woman is just as mighty as you believe you are, because god made both of us equal. In the hadiths, the prophet mentions a few woman names where they are present in a war situation, helping the men soldiers, and are praised for their duties. you should not hold them responsible for a perverts misdeed and punish them for it as well.

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