#MosqueMeToo – A Social Media Trend or a Shocking Sexual Assault Movement?

#MosqueMeToo Movement. Sexual Assault – two words that much over two million women across the globe can relate too! How sad is that? Today, when women are considered no less than men, when they are doing the same jobs and are fiercely independent, realities like Sexual Assault continue to grip our societies.

Just a few weeks back the social media #MeToo trend saw women from across borders standing against sexual assault and showing a very stark and stinking fact of society. And then came the #MosqueMeToo movement, another sexual assault tale that was shockingly also very relatable for women. Unfortunately, this movement is deep rooted at Hajj, the holy pilgrimage.

The ‘Holy’ Tale of Sexual Assault

Sabica Khan, a young woman from Pakistan, took to Facebook to share her tormenting experience at Hajj, where she faced sexual assault while she was performing her holy rituals. The experience was shocking but what was even more distressing was that hundreds of more Muslim women related to it and shared their similar ‘holy’ tales. The post was shared over 2000 times.

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Mona Ethway, a feminist, an author and a sexual assault victim herself, started the #MosqueMeToo movement and shared her own similar experience on Twitter. Her Tweet, not surprisingly, was liked and retweeted over and over again. The #MosqueMeToo movement spread across countries including Indonesia, Turkey, Arab Countries, France, Germany, Spain and more. It was heartening and disheartening at the same time to see so many Muslim women come together to share and talk about such a taboo subject. All these women shared similar experiences of sexual assault while on the holy pilgrimage.

Ethway has shared her experience in detail and confirms that she faced sexual assault at the hands of the policemen ‘guarding’ the holy place. She was just 15 years old when this happened. She talks about other sexual assault incidents she has faced but how now instead of keeping quiet and crying, she responds with physical attack.

Sexual Assault – Shame, Horror and Terror!

The Washington Post shares Mona Ethway’s story that talks about how she felt a sense of shame when she was sexually assaulted at the Hajj. That’s another thing that all women can relate with. Most women who have been sexual assault victims feel the same emotions- shame, horror and terror. We try to bury it deep inside and somehow believe it was our fault in some way, we try to cover it up with layers of insecurities and even more self blame. Silence seems to be the best option, but when a movement like #MosqueMeToo comes around it becomes a very loud scream that pierces right through us and bringing up all those emotions that we try and bottle up.

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Sexual assault has nothing to do with what a woman is wearing, because here we are talking about women dressed head to toe in hijab. It has got nothing to do with where we are and what we are doing, because here we are talking about women in one of the world’s holiest places, performing sacred rituals.

The problem here is that sometimes people don’t want you to talk. Ethway talks about how when she first openly spoke about the incident with an international women’s group in Cairo, another Muslim woman asked her to stop making ‘Muslims look bad’. But Ethway continued to talk about it, she made herself heard, she chose words instead of silence and addressed large, international groups. She also wrote about it in her book ‘Headscarves and Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution’.

This is not the first Sexual Assault Movement

Of Course #MeToo and #MosqueMeToo are not the first initiatives towards standing against sexual assault and hopefully there will be no last unless this evil completely dies. It is men who need to start taking a stand now too. If women at Hajj are not safe and protected, if a place of such high sanctity is not safe for women then imagine the plight elsewhere!

Mona Ethway has started a trend, a movement; don’t let it die on social media unless it dies in the society. Holy sites must launch campaigns and give sermons, authorities need to be made more stringent and the men need to be more sensitive. Muslim women across the globe have shared a terrible experience and this must no go unheard.

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