Libyan Nafissa Assed wrote a powerful article about street harassment for the Libya Herald. Here is an excerpt:
“…Libyan verbal harassment is not just offensive or annoying, it is sexually explicit, undignified and potentially scarring. No woman, adolescent, rich, poor, fat, attractive, veiled or ugly, is spared. Libyan men continually harass women because they simply can do so, without suffering any consequences. In fact, if a Libyan woman were to report an incident to a policeman, it is very likely he would harass her as well. The Libyan authorities have largely turned a blind eye to this, backed in part by a bedouin mentality that still views women outside the home as sluts. The situation is so bad that leaving the home can turn into a risky experience….
Every time I bring up the subject, people say: “Just pretend they don’t exist and keep doing whatever you’re doing. We’re used to this”.
I totally disagree! Opting as many women do, to just ignore a man’s sexual harassments over and over again by pretending they do not exist is not the solution. Men often persist no matter how long I ignore them until the situation becomes so annoying that I finally will have to acknowledge it by giving them some words of my own.
At this point, the man will not hesitate to attempt to hit me. And he knows in advance that if he does he will not face any consequences.
This scenario is repeated on a daily basis and many women in Libya do not feel safe walking alone in public places, driving their own cars, or using public transport….
It is terrifying that nothing is done about it. I wonder if the acts of sexual assault will ever become legally punishable in our new brand Libya….
Libyans are working together to build a whole new system, and people are changing their attitudes dramatically every day, but when it comes to attitudes of sexual harassment of women, nothing will change unless the government imposes tough rules against such behaviour.
If Libyans are seriously trying to strengthen the country’s economy and reverse its former pariah image, it should first improve conditions for the Libyan woman in a practical manner and place rules that protect her rights within the Libyan society. They have to be rules that are not enforced by social pressure, but by law. Doing so would also put foreign investors—some of them women — at ease.
Besides, talented Libyan women would feel happier about contributing to their society. It would increase the willingness of those living and working oversees to fulfill their long held dream to come back and serve their country.
Societies do not change overnight. But they can progress when governments enforce the laws they has put in print…”Share on Facebook