Can you believe that even Mecca is not safe for women?

A shocking fact has been revealed by Rayana Khalaf in an article “Women are speaking out about being sexually harassed during Hajj” on the website ‘StepFeed’.

In the article, women have been speaking out about their experiences of sexual harassment while carrying out tawaf around the Kaaba during their pilgrimage to Mecca. According to hajjumrahplanner.com, Tawaf refers to circumambulating or walking in circles around the Kaaba in an anti-clockwise motion. Seven complete circuits constitute one Tawaf.

The article says, “While one might think that men would tame their vile urges while performing their religious Islamic duties in the holy city of Mecca, the reality is quite disturbing”.

The fact come to light when a Karachi based Pakistani woman Sabica Khan shared a heartfelt post on Facebook in which she narrated the story of being harassed while performing tawaf. Encouraged by Sabica Khan’s words, several women commented on the post with their own experiences of sexual harassment in Mecca.

Khan started off her post by writing, “I was afraid to share this because it might hurt religious sentiments.” Later she narrated how she was sexually harassed several times while performing tawaf.

(Visit the link of Khan’s facebook ID to get the full text: https://www.facebook.com/sabeeca.khan)

Khan wrote on her wall, “While performing my tawaaf around the Kaaba after isha prayer, something really weird happened. It was my 3rd tawaf, and I felt a hand on my waist. I thought it was just an innocent mistake. I completely ignored. Then… I felt it again. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I kept moving. During my 6th tawaf I suddenly felt something aggressively poking my butt, I froze, unsure of whether it was intentional. I ignored and just kept moving slowly because the crowd was huge. I even tried to turn around but woefully couldn’t. When I reached the Yemeni corner, someone tried to grab and pinch my butt. I decided to stop there. Grabbed his hand and threw it off me *couldn’t move or turn around* I was literally petrified. Couldn’t even escape, so I stood, and turned around as much as I could, to see what’s happening, I turned around but… couldn’t see who it was”.

“I felt so violated. I felt unable to speak out. Stayed quiet because I knew no one would trust me, or nobody would take it seriously, except my mum. So I told her everything when I returned to the hotel room. She was incredibly confused and devastated. After this incident, she never allowed me to go there again alone. It’s sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I’ve been harrased, not once, not twice, but thrice. My entire experience at the holy city is overshadowed by this horrible incident. I believe it’s totally okay and important to be open about harassment. Don’t know how many of you had similar experience there but this incident has unfortunately left me feeling upset”, she added.

Another victim of sexual harassment at Mecca, who chose to remain anonymous, told StepFeed she has been sexually harassed multiple times during her many visits to Mecca for Umrah, the non-mandatory Islamic pilgrimage.

She said harassment is most common in the queue leading to the Black Stone, a rock set into the eastern corner of the Kaaba.

She explained that she has encountered “pinches and inappropriately being touched by male organs at the butt” on multiple occasions.

As a result, during her recent visits to Mecca, she has been avoiding the Black Stone and performing tawaf.

The heartfelt story undoubtedly exposes sick mindset of the fundamentalists. Surprisingly seculars and liberals who speak for gender justice and do not hesitate to project every Indian tradition as anti-women will not stand for the women who are openly narrating the exploitation and sexual harassment at the most important religious places of the Islamic world.

Nishant Azad