Saturday, 28 July 2012

Walk like a lady

TW: rape, victim blaming.

Our dorm's curfew is eight thirty pm in the summer, but I got permission to go to taraweeh prayers at the masjid across the street during Ramadan. I'm the only one in the building who goes. Taraweeh ends around eleven pm. The dorm supervisor usually calls me at ten thirty to ask why I'm not back yet, but I'm in the masjid and I'm praying so my ringer's turned off. She knows perfectly well where I am and what I'm doing.

Instead of going to taraweeh today, I went to the souq and bought food. Because I had none, and nothing is open until after ishaa, and I'm diabetic. I eat or I die.

It was a Saturday evening during Ramadan, so I waited a long time for buses, and I walked a long ways. Some of the streets in the souq were dead, nothing open, and some were packed wall-to-wall with people and cars. Most of the vendors wanted twice the usual prices. I sat at the mujamma'a for half an hour, waiting for the bus to fill up with passengers and leave.

So it was quarter after eleven when I got home. The dorm supervisor and some of the girls sit on the main floor (the third floor) smoking and talking and watching muselselaat (soap operas) and watching the stairs. Nobody gets by unnoticed.

They stopped me on my way up the stairs, dead tired and loaded down with vegetables, and asked me, with obvious suspicion, how many raka'at I prayed this time. I told the truth. I went to the big masjid in the souq, against the rules and without permission, and prayed the minimum number of raka'at, and then bought food. They berated me for breaking the rules. I don't think that people who don't pray or practice their supposed religion have any business criticising me for doing halaal things.

The dorm supervisor said that she was about to bolt the door, and if I was any later, she would have locked me out.

I believe she would lock me out; it's common practice in dormitories. Any girl who stays out late is obviously bad, and deserves what she gets. And the dorm supervisors know that I don't recognize their authority or abide by their rules. I've got it coming.

Basically, she gave me a choice between death by diabetic coma, and a shallow grave in the desert.

Groups of men hang around in the parking lots outside our building. I've been surrounded and attacked several times in this area, coming home from work in the evening. I fended them off with rocks and blows and shouting. I guess they weren't that determined, and Allah was with me.

I don't carry a knife anymore, and I know it's stupid and I'm putting my own safety at risk, but if I was armed I would stab the next man who touched me. I don't think I would be able to stop. And I don't think I'd be able to live with myself after that.

When I told the dorm supervisor, she said they assaulted me because I was afraid. Right, because fear totally causes gang rape. Other women said it was my own fault for being outside. Or for wearing colour. Or for having pretty eyes. Here's a tip, folks: nothing women do or don't do causes rape. Men raping causes rape. Society blaming the victim and not the attacker perpetuates rape.

I'm conscious of the men eyeing me, and I'm aware that I'm not safe, but I'm not afraid. I hold my head up and walk like someone you do not want to mess with. Women tell me to walk like a lady, slowly with small steps, don't draw attention, don't make men desire you. I don't care. Meekness gets you nothing but abuse in this world. The next man who gropes me will lose a nut, and people can think what they like about it.


  1. I walk the same way. I figure if anyone is looking for an easy target, I should at least advertise it's sure as heck not me.

    I hope these other women realize the lies they've been told about who causes rape. Rapists cause rape. People are raped wearing all kinds of clothes, at all times of the day. Frankly, there is nothing we can do aside from educate people not to rape, and not to tolerate it or perpetuate rape culture.

  2. Salaam Alaikum,

    Always sad how nasty people can be. Some of my family have had to relocate (to put it gently) from Syria to Amman and they've noticed how much worse street harassment is there. Is there any sign of the authorities doing anything about it?