By Johanna Higgs and Amal Ben Hadda
Rabat – Throughout the world, sexual harassment is a serious problem. Whether it be lecherous staring, inappropriate comments, unwanted touching, or any other form of degrading, sexually humiliating behavior, women throughout the world are forced to endure this disgusting behavior from men, often on a daily basis.
It is an enormous problem.
Leaving the home may be an uncomfortable and stressful task for a woman because of the persistent fear that she is going to be targeted by one, or perhaps even hundreds of men as she goes about her day. Going to work, school or into any public space, she can be met with harassment.
She notes that it seems like a joke for the various men that she passes in the day, something of a game for them. To leer lecherously or to make overt, very obvious sexual innuendos towards her, seems to be something fun for them. A man will laugh with his friends as she passes by and then most likely, doesn’t think twice about his actions again.
However, she cannot forget his actions. It’s no joke for her and there is certainly nothing funny about it. Rather it’s insulting, degrading, and violating.
As the behavior is repeated over and over again, it starts to take a severe psychological toll and she will fear going outside.
It’s the type of behavior that no one would want projected towards their mothers, their sisters or their daughters.
It is the type of behavior that nobody would want projected towards themselves.
Yet despite this, so many people make excuses for sexual harassment. They dismiss it, they assume that it’s not that big a deal or they very blame the person who is being harassed.
These apologists of sexual harassment suggest that sexual aggressors are too ‘weak’ to control themselves. They suggest that these men cannot be rational human beings and are rather instead like some kind of creature who is incapable of control. In this way, the sexual aggressor is able to justify his actions, on the basis that he is unable to control himself which he then believes entitles him to sexually harass and assault whoever he pleases.
Women, from all over the world, are expected to just simply understand this. Women are expected to know that there are men who consider themselves far too weak to be able to control their sexual impulses and she is expected to understand that should she happen to get in his way, then it is she who bares the blame for his bad behavior.
Then there is the other problem with those who acknowledge sexual harassment but deny the harm caused by it. They criticize women who tell their stories of being harassed and suggest that they are exaggerating or making unjustifiable claims. They suggest that being a victim of sexual harassment is really not that bad. They mock her, how silly she is to think those aggressive stares, those lecherous comments or those men who stand too close to her on public transport should make her uncomfortable.
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Yet, as she steps out of the house once again it begins. The leers, the sexually aggressive behavior that doesn’t end until she returns home.
Regardless of what a woman does, whether she stays home or goes outside, women are always blamed as victims of sexual harassment.
The situation cannot go on like this any longer. These dangerous attitudes that excuse sexual harassment incite violence. They incite rape and offensively suggest that women are just simply objects for male entertainment.
There needs to be more public discussion across the globe, more campaigns and many more efforts to teach men, that sexual harassment causes harm. Politicians needs to be encouraging of harsher laws and there needs to be much more social condemnation of such bad behavior. Both men and women need to be active in speaking up with their friends and families to make it known, that sexual harassment and in fact any bad behavior towards women, won’t be tolerated.
Furthermore, women, who still believe that it’s culturally or religiously acceptable to be harassed by men, need to know that both men and women deserve to have equal rights. No woman deserves to be harassed and anyone who says otherwise has been brainwashed. Regardless of a man’s culture or his religion, he must be responsible for his own acts. Bad behavior from men should not be tolerated on the pretext that they are born male.
We need to tell men who allege that they are unable to stop themselves from harassing women, that if they are too ‘weak’ to keep their lewd stares and disrespectful comments to themselves, then it is him that should not be walking freely in the street. If he feels that there is no way that he can stop himself from projecting obscene, sexually degrading behavior at others, then it is him who deserves to lose his freedom, not women.
We need to do this because sexual harassment is offensive. It makes its victims feel uncomfortable and makes one feel that they do not want to leave the home. There is no excuse to make another human being feel this way.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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