On Sexual Harassment

Kendall Lanes (Unsplash)

I know there are tons of entries unfolding the story of sexual harassment victims. But, heck, I want to write too.

One night, a faraway friend called me in anxious and tense fashion. She was in the edge of tears. In her trembling voice, she told that she was forced to kiss her senior’s lips, but the part that torn my heart the most is when she said

“We didn’t kiss eventually. I used my strength to block him whatsoever. Then, he just laughed at me for being a scaredy cat and somehow threatened to take my virginity away as well. When I was taking a bath, I could not help but feeling disgust on myself. I just could not imagine what I would be when he had finally touched my body”

I listened all of her story attentively. I was very taken aback not knowing what response and helpful advice I should have offered to her. I hate being useless at the time when I am supposed to give my friend the best comfort. I was clueless as well when another close friend faced the similar experience. I just could say, “It’s okay”, “It’s not your fault”, “The one who did it is the real bastard here”, “You are not doing wrong”. I know it won’t make even a slight difference and I resent that I just could give such low-level consolations.

As for myself, several months ago, I was often catcalled by two same men on my way to have a lunch in a nearby cafetaria near my office. One day, when these guys catcalled me, I gave them my death glare and yelled at them. Then, instead of scolding these mannerless men, people surrounding me gave the kind of “You are Muslimah. You are not supposed to shout harsh words” look. Some shook their heads in disapproval gesture which I had no idea which one they disagreed with. I regretted shouting profane words. I should have picked the biggest rock I could find and landed it on their skull. Well, nope.

My point is that victim blaming is real. The state of victim bearing his/her own burden is unimaginable. It is quite common when some reckless journalists on mainstream media point out the dress of victim and the situation when a rape takes place. It is often narrated that the offender gets “triggered” because of the victim. However, what enrages me the most is when the harassment is carried out by the closest circle of the victim. It disgusts me when I see the headline appearing on ‘crime’ section of a local paper “Father has been molesting his daughter for two years”. He didn’t only break the trust, but also ruined his daughter’s life. The worst kind of monster.

What is more, this kind of case also takes place in workplace and education institution. Eventhough there is no physical contact involved, there are a lot of victims enduring the verbal abuse and vulgar story they receive. Or, ridiculuosly, some employers or professors make use their authority to force or violate their subordinate or students. In my city, there is no Sexual Violation code of conduct which regulates how everybody is protected in the term of his/her sexual matters. It is quite a pipe dream to make it into a realization as no one will talk openly about it, ironically.

I am the person who second the opinion that tells “Rape or any sexual violation is the matter of power”. One can violate once he/she thinks they are powerful. It can’t be changed once there is an open discussion what we should do and we should not. It will be as the way it is if public discourse such as mainstream media, television, or any public channel keeps misfocusing the story. It will be getting worse if everybody is not equipped with appropriate and sufficient amount of information especially sex education.

Actually, this is hard, but it is worth fighting for.