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Terrible Video of Saudi Women Harassed for Being “Seductive” Is a Lesson to Victim Blamers Everywhere

For those stragglers out there (we tell ourselves it’s just a few stragglers so we can sleep at night) who still cling to the idea that women getting harassed or assaulted must have somehow been inviting that behavior, let us be perfectly clear: It has nothing to do with the victim or the clothes she wears, and this mob scene of harassers in Saudi Arabia demonstrates that to disturbing effect.

After the video proliferated across the Internet, activists got involved on behalf of the women, which led to an investigation in which six of the men in the video were detained and questioned. However, things didn’t go much farther, as the victim-blame began with a video meant to show how the women had acted “indecent” and provoked the crowd.

The Daily Mail reports that Saudi Judicial adviser Yehia al-Shahrani told the state’s Sabq news site that the women acted in a ‘seductive and tempting’ fashion.

Apparently, they’d been seen riding quad bikes, and throwing an “agal,” the black rope Saudi men wear around their head cloths, to the crowd. However, as Business Insider reports, the scene took place in Jiddah, which isn’t one of the more conservative provinces where riding the quads would be seen as tantamount to driving a car, and women sometimes even leave their hair uncovered and wear colorful robes.

That’s not to say this harassment would be OK or justified in a more conservative place, as we’d like for women to be equal across the globe and not just in our little American bubble, but certainly makes the excuse for harassment seem much more flimsy by putting it in a comparatively progressive setting. It shouldn’t matter how the women had acted—there is no “invitation” for a crowd of men to harass and frighten these women the way they did.

And yet, we still see this happen—with roughly the same excuse—everywhere, not just in places where women’s rights are behind the times. The problem is that men would ever think there’s justification or a reason to harass a woman, no matter what individual societal trappings are placed on it.

The initially obvious question of, “How could they possibly have acted indecently in full body coverings?” is actually completely beside the point. It may be helpful in illustrating the fact that anyone who blames men’s bad behavior on how much of a woman’s body her clothes cover is way off base, but in itself, it implies that there’s a level of clothing where the behavior of the men would be more understandable. In reality, the blame rests solely on the idea that men get to judge women and decide whether they deserve to be treated like human beings, and it’s an idea we still have to weed out of all cultures.

(via Business Insider)

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