The solidarity movement “#MeToo” has struck a viral match in the courageous hearts of women around the world. It has revealed a plethora of tales of sexual assault being perpetrated in the workplaces, the church and now, also the mosque.
Subsequently, setting alight a frenzy of new hashtags which break the race, class, gender and faith lines to expose sexual harassment in what one might consider to be the most safe and sacred of spaces (i.e. #ChurchMeToo and #MosqueMetoo).
The phrase was created by grass-roots activist Tarana Burke and became popularised by high-profile celebrities. In October 2017, actress Alyssa Milano took to the twittersphere, stumbling along the phrase and began urging women to voice there personal stories. What transpired was an extraordinary outpouring of pain. This was aided through allegations of sexual misconduct by disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Hollywood stars did much to show their encouragement, dressed in black to champion the Golden Globes with their support. This create a torrent trend within the social media scene.
Tarana Burke says, “there is inherent strength in agency”.
Sexual assault often described by physiologists as establishing an asymmetrical power dynamic of dominate and control. The #MeToo campaign, she says, is about reclaiming a victim’s voice or power.
Yet within our very own Muslim community, a disturbing revelation has come out of the woodwork. The mosque of all places, a place of peace; is not immune to the lewdness of predatory abuse.
These revelations became public when Sabica Khan, a young Pakistani woman took to social media to share her harrowing experiences of being sexually harassed whilst performing the Islamic pilgrimage in the city of Makkah.
During the tawaaf, Sabina reported how petrified she felt after being groped numerous times in public.
“I felt so violated” she said.
“My entire experience at the holy city (was)… overshadowed by this horrible incident.”
Having experienced the same abuse, Mona Eltahawy an Egyptian activist started the twitter thread #MosqueMeToo. Yet, what is most powerful about this movement is how brave these ladies truly are.
Muslim women are speaking up and holding men accountable. It is clear that men are at the centre of combatting predatory abuse, particularly our religious leaders. As no one is infallible in the eyes of Allah.
Ultimately, there is something more important than covering up. Modesty and respect are intrinsically at the heart of the Islamic faith, but clearly, sexual assault is a universal crime.
This is not a moment to be frightful. Our community has to step up and be made accountable, in order to safeguard our daughters, sisters and mothers.