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Read This Before You Share That Hijabi Sexual Harassment Video

Read This Before You Share That Hijabi Sexual Harassment Video

Many of us are aware of the viral and currently circulating video, 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman by Hollaback, an organization that wishes to eradicate street harassment, intimidation, and catcalling of woman around the globe. The video featured a young woman walking around Manhattan for 10 hours all the while being harassed by men, whistled at, and even forced into conversation with a man who, for a consistent 5 minutes, insisted on having her number. And what was this woman wearing? A t-shirt and jeans.

These results are, to many of us, not at all surprising. According to the National Street Harassment Report,

“Sixty-five percent of all women (two out of three women in the United States) said they had experienced some form of street harassment, as had 25% of all men (one out of four men in the United States)”.

Most people who were street harassed experienced both verbally and physically aggressive forms. Furthermore,

“More than half of all women (57%) said they had experienced verbal harassment and 41% of women said they had experienced physically aggressive forms, including following, flashing, and groping. Among all men, 18% had experienced verbal harassment and 16% had experienced physically aggressive forms.”

A few days ago, in response to this viral video, Karim Metwaly from “Are We Famous Now” released a video comparing two situations of a woman walking through NYC for 5 hours: one wearing pants and t-shirt, and another wearing the hijab and a full black burka. Although it is true that no vulgar comments were addressed to the women later dressed in the hijab and burka, this video gives out the wrong message. Metwaly essentially states the notion that women must cover themselves up from head to toe in order to be free from harassment and cat-calling; when in actuality it is a man’s responsibility not to sexually harass a woman. It is the choice of a woman to wear what she deems comfortable and walk down the streets free from the fear of sexual abuse.

Not only is this video placing undue restraints on a woman’s choice of clothing, but it also places the hijab in a very male-centric light, as if the whole purpose of donning the hijab is for men, when it’s supposed to be a personal commitment to God’s love of modesty, the fulfillment of a commandment to his servants, and for the love of their religion. It is also a man’s responsibility to adopt modest practices and lower his gaze; the clothing of a woman is entirely her choice and should not be the reason she suffers from such vulgar treatment.

Allah states in the Quran (24:30-31),

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them… say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…”

Hijab is not worn for men; to keep their illicit desires in check, that is their own responsibility, as the above verse and Prophetic sayings show. Rather, Muslim women wear it for God and their own selves. Islam is a religion of moderation and of balance between extremes. Therefore, it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and uprightness. Rather, Islam asks men and women mutually to strive to treat one another with the utmost respect and dignity. Being a hijabi myself, I do understand the importance of modesty, yet I think what needs to be highlighted in the video is the sickening mentality that some men have.

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Women, from all races, religions, and ethnic backgrounds, have the right to be respected, regardless of what they choose to wear or the status they hold in society. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has the right to treat women the way these horrible men did in the first half of the video – it has degraded the very fabric of a human’s existence and the value they hold. It is always the aggressor’s fault for sexually harassing someone (male or female)– no one in their right mind dresses up in the morning hoping to be harassed or degraded while going about their day like anyone else. No one should have to worry about being sexually abused, especially in this day and age, no matter their gender, sexual appeal, or choice of clothing.

Karim Metwaly’s video presents the hijab as some sort of bullet-proof protection for a woman. Something that will guard her from street harassment; thus leaving those who choose not to wear the hijab vulnerable to prejudice and discrimination. Now men will be able to say if you don’t want to be raped, carry a gun and cover yourself. Where do we draw the line between self-control and freedom?

Honestly, anywhere you go, it doesn’t matter what you wear. There are psychopaths everywhere, and if a man has no empathy, no heart, no fear of God, and an evil mind – he’s going to do what he wants. The women in both videos were not in any way or form dressed in outfits that screamed: “Hey look at me; ogle me – make me feel like a cheap piece of meat!” – and yet that’s what some men did to varying degrees with each one. In the end, it’s our duty to support the choice of women and not force them to adopt any body covering. Especially not by insinuating that, if they don’t wear a hijab or a burka, they might get raped. Rather our main goal should be to educate all to treat women with respect and dignity – the same way you would want your mothers, sisters, and daughters to be treated – with utmost kindness and honor. Remember that. The last thing we need is a bunch of men threatening women to wear the hijab and using such videos as evidence to prove their point. It’s a choice – not a burden.

What are your thoughts on this video?

View Comments (25)
  • errrm the last part of that verse seems to kind of contradict what you are saying

    ” and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands”

    • if you read the article closely, that verse doesn’t contradict anything. Allah SWT isn’t saying that if you do not draw your veil over your bosom, you should be raped. That’s the point of this article. Muslim women do need to cover, yes, but hijab isn’t a protection from the evils of men and their sexuality. It is a public display of religion, something that sets Muslimahs apart from other people and protects our self-esteem. It forces people to judge us based on intellect and not physicality. But, like it states in the article:

      “There are psychopaths everywhere, and if a man has no empathy, no heart, no fear of God, and an evil mind – he’s going to do what he wants.”

      That’s why niqabis and hijabis in the middle east are raped all the time. It’s not a matter of covering.

  • I encourage everyone to watch and share that video. The article would make complete sense if the video was titled “Tutorial on how not to get raped walking down NYC.” However, all the video showed was an experiment of a girl walking in two different types of clothing then asked what the viewers thought about it. Problem is that people love to judge others without worrying about themselves. The woman that wrote that article judged this video because of people that judge girls that don’t wear hijab. Everybody needs to stop judging and just think about themselves. I love this video because it shows the beauty of the hijab to people who claim it to be oppressive, backwards-thinking, and etc. At the same time nobody should be forced to wear it or looked down upon for choosing not to.

  • “Hijab is not worn for men” No, hijab is not worn for men, but it is worn from men. And while it is commanded by God to wear hijab, the purpose of this command is to cover up our beauty / body from men, not just to wear it period. Because if that were the case, as you are claiming in your article, then women would wear it all the time, even in their homes and amongst other women. Don’t confuse the fact that we obey God and do something for Him and for our own good, with the purpose Allah brought down this command: which is essentially to cover up from men.

    • I observe hijab while in prayer in complete solitude. Is that for men?
      We perform specific actions in prayer and in other forms of ibadat, all of which cannot be explained in terms of some logical rational human interpretation. But we perform said actions solely because Allah commanded us to do so. You don’t get to decide the purpose of Allah’s commands to suit your actions. If there is one universal purpose of any of Allah’s commands, then it is to benefit the believer who abides by it.
      I wear hijab for me, not for you.

  • The video simply illustrates one benefit of wearing hijab. If you wear it you are less likely to be harassed. That’s it. Plain and simple.

    • Stop making things up to try, and prove a point that is not proveable. You get raped in your own countries, while wearing hijabs, and you know it. I was just watching a video about how terrible harassment of women is in Eygpt regardless of what they wear.

      • asma simply said “If you wear it you are ***less likely*** to be harassed”. That is what was demonstrated in the video (may not be scientific proof, but to an average person, it at least counts as evidence). He/she didn’t say “If you wear it you will never get raped”. Nobody here that is defending or supporting this video is denying that rape can occur regardless of what you’re wearing (on the contrary, people opposing the video are putting those words in their mouths). They are simply stating that you might reduce (and I hope you can understand the difference between “might reduce” and “will eliminate”) your chances of harassment and even rape if you choose to dress modestly. Nothing to do with hijab necessarily – it’s just one example of modest attire. At least that’s the message I got. If this video helps even a handful of people avoid some unwanted harassment on the streets, whether by hijab or simply a shawl, I would consider the video successful and worth making and sharing. Rest of you folks, please chill!

  • As someone who has been a muslim and who hasn’t it really comes down to the way society obsesses over womens appearance and that women really are one of two things. sex objects or invisible beings. ive felt invisible in my former muslim community or generally a freak if i dared show up without a hijab on. ive felt the same way in public, as either a freak, weirdo invisible or a sex object depending on the situation.

  • also, wearing a hijab doesnt mean you wont get harassed. but most americans associate full on jilbab all in black as though youre a foreigner (ie invisible and strange). so no you wont get harassed but you also wont get help if you need it most likely.

  • NYC is not the epicenter of the world, nor should the dubious reality documented in this video be generalized as the experiences of women the world over. Ask any Muslim woman who wears hijab in Muslim countries whether or not being covered protects her from harassment and assault.

    • I don’t have to ask her. There are many cases of women getting raped in Arab countries, while wearing a hijab. As she stated, the problem is the men, and their lack of respect for themselves,and other people, not what the woman is wearing.

      • Yes its the men who harm the women. But there are always a few culprits and you cant stereotype a gender due to misdoings of some. Its a 2 way road, both Commandments must be followed. Women must do their part and men must theirs

  • Look how beautifully the writer completely ignored what God has commanded to women, but talked only what is commanded to men.”say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” It is always a 2 way process, women cant just forget their own responsibility which needs to be followed.

  • There is something clear right in-front of us and we keep missing it

    I have read 10000000 articles about this and I get it we don’t wear hejab for men and its a commitment to god and that everyone and anyone could be raped or harassed

    but lets not write billion articles about something so obvious and simple

    women in hejab get less of that sexual attention that non hejabis (please notice the less before replying)
    I know this from personal experience I use to be this everyday girl in jeans and a t-shirt and I then slowly changed to more modest clothing then into hejab with jeans and shirts and then eventually into skirts and now into full abaya (they called it burka in this article and video burka I believe is the full niqab) and well every time it progressed I would get soo many different reactions
    In my first step of just dressing normally I got hit on quite a bit (not too proud of this)
    then when I wore more modest clothing not much changed
    when I put on the hejab and I was still wearing jeans and form fitting shirts I had less of this problem (not saying it didn’t happen)
    and the last step its like even men who don’t know Islam or the rules about lowering your gaze when a women goes by they all do it when I walk by as if my instinct and my sister had experienced this too when she wore the hejab for the first time
    When you dress this way trust me you may have a problem with dirty looks and some rude Muslim hatters having to say something about what you wear (I really don’t care it gives me joy when they have a problem with the way I dress because I know that Allah is pleased with my patients and will give me more reward) but the sexual harassment goes down dramatically (again not the “Down” meaning it can still happen)

    I agree 100% we don’t wear it for men
    but don’t deny the fact that it works
    its as simple as that

  • There will always be a possibility of getting hurrahed but the woman have the choice either to encourage that or try to avoid it with what she wear, make up, perfume and behavior !!

  • Hi There,
    I’ll like to quote a very simple example; If u carry some cash flaunting it in you hands,u’ve more chances of catching the attention and getting robbed But if u carry the cash in ur bag,u still have chances of getting robbed But u won’t catch attention,hence chances drops down to an extent.
    Secondly, Girls are never at fault,its always the men who behaves like animal and they should be punished,so that others learn from them.But in the mean time,I should try to take some preventive measures so as to protect myself from all those nuisances.
    regrds

  • Not necessarily, the video doesn’t give out a message that suggests that women should cover themselves, or that it’s the fault of women for being sexually harassed. The impression I got from it was that it’s merely attempting to bring light on the concept of covering (hijab). So more than likely, the video makers were trying to release some tension on the hijab and show people that it it more liberating than restrictive, NOT in any way suggesting that women should or should not dress a certain way.

  • Loved the Video and Shared the video…. also will share more. Actions speaks volumes, and the actions in the video were loud and clear. Men do not respect women who do not respect themselves. tight jeans and tight t shirt. lets just say this was a christian woman with a long skirt and a loose long blazer, even though not hijab and abaya as Muslims, but she would still have been know by her dress that she was not inviting anything. ANY woman that wears tight a** jeans and tight hugging the B***s shirt is gonna send the message of look at me. The woman in Hijab and Abaya was telling everyone by her dress that she was not to be messed with. It was her non verbal communication that spoke loudly enough that she did not need to. Just the same for the tightly clothed woman, her non verbal communication was that she was looking for attention. OR she would NOT be dressed like that. My simple guess is that most like this article was written by someone who struggles with hijab, abaya or modesty in general. Because those who have totally embraced modest.

  • Hmm well very interesting! Worth taking note and contemplating more in depth here. While you are right no one has the right to be treated with disrespect for whatever they chose to wear. Isn’t this wisdom behind the laws. Because Allah knows he create mankind weak, and full of desires so he gave us guidelines and the means to protect ourselves. So kindly, would not it behoove us all to put that wisdom to good use and do what we know we should to protect ourselves from harm. Just like wearing yourself seat belt. You put it on because it has been proven to prevent and protect us in many cases of accidents. So why not treat hijab and abaya the same way.??? and this is also for every woman not just the thin and slim. I am plus Sized and When I dressed like I wanted a man to see something, they saw and then I heard about what they saw. btw it has been very hard to find decent clothing in plus Size, Shout out to Plus Size #Muslimah for finally providing a venue for modest clothing. You should really examine what you are trying to defend. I personally think you making it much harder to live that simplified life of Islam. Allah says cover for a good reason.

  • The answer to what ur saying is within ur own article….Allah swt)says don’t display ur beauty except to ur husband,father n brothers…

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