An interesting article in today's Gulf News about sexual assault in the UAE.
I grew up in the UAE, and it's kind of sad when you realise that most girls end up growing accustomed to getting stared at, no matter what they are wearing. This behaviour, as despicable as it is, is a fact of life here in the Emirates. But what's even more despicable is when the staring turns into acts of lewdness. I have witnessed and heard so many stories...it's sickening really!
- We were walking out of a restaurant one evening, my sister, a couple of female friends, and myself. A car slows down, the man rolls down his window, his friend is sitting next to him. They start waving a stack of bills in front of us, asking "how much". I went nuts, and started screaming at them, in Arabic. You should have seen the shock on their faces when they found out we were Arabs. They drove away quickly.
Along the same lines, my sister, a friend and I were waiting for a taxi on Hamdan street in Abu Dhabi, and some guys pass by in front of us asking "fee shoghol" (meaning are you working?). Again, we scream at them...they walk away from us quickly.
- My sister was waiting for my dad to pick her up in front of her friend's house. She sees a man across the street, who starts touching himself, right then and there, in broad daylight. My sister freaks out of course, and goes running back inside the house.
- My friend, who had just arrived in Dubai, asks a taxi driver if she can smoke in the car. He says yes, but only if you sit in the front seat. She naively accepts. The driver starts telling her how beautiful she is, and starts touching himself. My poor traumatised friend could not do anything. The guy was driving on Sheikh Zayed road and she could not stop anywhere. She just called a friend, and stayed on the phone until she reached her destination. She threw the money at the cab driver and ran out. I wouldn't have even paid the guy, and I defintely would have taken his license place number and reported him....but she was too shocked to think of doing any of this.
- When we were in high school, the school bus would drop us off a couple of meters away from the house. On several occasions, a man would be lurking around, waiting for my sister to come home. He tried talking to her several times. My sister told my father, who then started waiting for my sister to walk her home. He saw the guy once, and threatened to call the police if he kept harassing her. He stopped coming.
- Just a couple of nights ago, as I was walking from my car to our building, a car slows down, the man rolls down his window, and he starts yelling his phone number repeatedly, telling me "you are most beautiful woman". I just ignored him and kept on walking.
And so on and so forth...the list is endless! It's really sickening.