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.
Women have recently been speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment while carrying out tawaf around the Kaaba during their pilgrimage to Mecca.
It all started when Pakistani Sabica Khan shared a heartfelt Facebook post in which she detailed being harassed while performing tawaf, after which women began sharing their own encounters with sexual harassment in Mecca.
On Facebook, she wrote:
“*I was afraid to share this because it might hurt your religious sentiments*.
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.”
Encouraged by Khan’s words, several women commented on the post with their own experiences.
One woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said 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 in the outermost perimeter, which is less crowded.
Others expressed their thoughts and experiences as they leave their comments on the issue.
“Women aren’t safe anywhere, I experienced more or less same during tawaf at Huj 2010”
“I had a similar experienced when a random guy with dare looks tired to put his hand over mine when i was leaning on one of Kabba’s walls…..Another one harassed me verbally…in both times i felt unsafe ans threatened even at Allah’s home…the holiest place on Earth but disgraces by human beasts.”
“I am so, so sorry. Something along the lines of what you experienced happened to me as well. Do not let this overshadow your entire experience of performing your religious duty. You are so courageous to share this, and you are definitely not alone. That doesn’t make the situation any better, unfortunately. You did the right thing and did what you could to escape it. Im very sorry and making duas for you.”
“You are not alone. I believe you. It happened to me as well. No hand on the wrist but definite poking on the butt. Twice. This ws when i was trying to touch the black stone. I also ignored it the first time around thinking while there was so much bumping going on, it must have happened by mistake. But the second time i was sure it was no mistake. I turned around but could only do a 90 degree turn which left me against the pushing crowd in a very wrong position and i started drowning in the crowd losing my breath. God knows how i was ale to get out but i do remember completing the last 2 tawafs and sitting to pray nafal prayers, thats when i realised i was still trembling.”
“One of my friend had similar experience. You are so brave to open up.”
“It doesn’t mean that those who are going to holy places have holy hearts. Majority of them are corrupt and sinful people. they perform their haj to deceive themselves and God but after they start doing more worst things.”
“Places don’t matter, it’s the heart that needs to have God in it. You’re not the only one to have gone through this, Sabica. It certainly ruins the whole experience. Incidents of groping, harassing and pickpocketing in Harems are innumerable.”