The #MeToo campaign is storming Facebook, as female victims of sexual harassment or abuse share their stories on the social media platform to raise awareness and highlight the extent of the problem. Initially, I wasn’t sure about being open about these issues, but I think that it is time to speak out.
There have been a few people engaging in a backlash regarding the #MeToo campaign. Some people have criticised the sharing of small harassing actions, claiming that they belittle victims of large scale sexual abuse and rape. Some have been quick to jump on the ‘sexist’ bandwagon and raised the question: What about the male victims of abuse.
But, lets face it, large scale or small scale, no act of sexual abuse to anyone is acceptable. It’s time for us to reveal the extent of the problem. Here’s my #MeToo stories of sexual harassment when travelling. I share these stories in support of any woman who has been through something that she should not have experienced.
#MeToo in Morocco
Walking out of the Marrakech Museum, I was greeted by what I can only describe as a swarm of men, all of whom insisted on accompanying me around the city, taking me to the tannery or guiding me through the souks. I’m always happy to smile and walk on. However, grabbing my arm and literally dragging me to one side is NOT acceptable. And, I don’t buy the ‘cultural differences’ card. This would not be acceptable treatment of a Moroccan woman either.
#MeToo in Uganda
Walking through the centre of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, I already felt a little uneasy about the amount of children on the streets and the number of street sellers a little too ‘in-your-face’. The roads were dusty and dirty, and this was a contrast to clean and organised Kigali in Rwanda, where I had just come from. Simply walking down the street, with my African friend Claire holding my arm, a guy grabbed my arse and gave it a massive squeeze as he shouted ‘Mazungu!’ (meaning white person) and then laughed. No, not funny. You cannot squeeze my arse because I am white, or a woman, or for any other reason for that matter, without me saying that it is ok to do so.
#MeToo in Israel
Walking through Jerusalem with my friend Sharon, we were approached by a young boy of around 14 years, who we thought innocently wanted to practice speaking English. How wrong could we be? After trying to get in photos with us and almost snog my friend, he then went to grab me – not on the arse or the boob, but on the ‘hoo-ha!’ What a violation and completely unacceptable. No witnesses, nothing we could do but walk on and continue our site seeing, hoping that he will one day get his comeuppance.
Before I sign off, let me say this. I don’t believe that touching a woman without her permission is acceptable in any culture, even between husband and wife. My experiences have not been as bad as some people may have been through, but I am thankful that the #MeToo campaign has bought so many people together to highlight the extent of the problem.
Have you ever experienced sexual harassment or abuse while you were travelling?
What do you think of the #MeToo campaign? Please share to raise awareness.
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