TW Warning: These stories contain detailed descriptions of abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, physical violence and other forms of harassment and discrimination which may be triggering.
I have to go into Bridgetown regularly to run my errands, but I hate it. Wearing an abaya (a full-length outer garment worn by some Muslim women) and niqab (face-veil) bothers men so much, that they harass me from all corners. I get nervous when I have to pass a group of men liming. I’ve had horrible encounters, where men would stare and make rude comments, telling me they want to “see what I’m hiding under there”. One man once told me he wants me to be “one of his virgins in heaven”.... Some remarks are even worse, the words they use I do not even feel comfortable repeating. On one occasion, I was in town with my child, and a man followed me the entire length of Swan Street, demanding I “take off all them clothes” because he “wanted to see” my body. I mustered up the strength to tell him “Leave me alone!” He didn’t like this at all… he started swearing, calling me a terrorist and telling me I must be hiding bombs under there. I was so angry, what is men’s obsession with seeing Muslim women’s bodies?
The worst part is, people don’t see that this is an issue with how men think…. When I mentioned these incidents to a religious person whom I would seek advice at the time, they simply said “this is why women’s place is in the home” and asked me if I had a male relative who could run the errands instead.
If you or someone you know is being abused and needs help, please contact BAML’s Hotline at 284-2613 or 257-5582. WhatsApp Messages are also accepted. This is a free, highly confidential service.