Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stop Street Harassment!

It was quite fortuitous that the BBC featured an article about sexuality in Morocco, a quickly modernizing, Muslim country wrestling with its own identity, the same week that my students released an anti-street harassment video, a problem that plagues Azerbaijan.

In Morocco, pre-marital sex is illegal.
“If the code is removed, we will become wild savages. Our society will become a disaster.” – Imam Hassan Ait Belaid
“Legalizing sex outside marriage is an initiative to promote debauchery.”
– Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid

Comments like this from the article stood out for all the wrong reasons and I was left incredibly frustrated. However, what stood out even more for me was the BBC’s analysis of these comments.

“Critics of the Islamists argue that the strict sex laws merely increase the harassment of women. Men often talk of going for “female hunting”, as they drive down the boulevards trying to pick up women. Such harassment shows the sexual frustration that persists in predominantly conservative Muslim societies, analysts say.”

Now, I’m not quoting these comments to encourage a repeal of Morocco’s law. That’s not my place. Nor did I help my students film this short movie in order to encourage pre-marital sex in Azerbaijan, but we face this exact same problem in Azerbaijan: an inherent lack of respect for women. My young female students and female colleagues alike are often too scared to walk alone in their own communities. What kind of life is that? I won’t use this blog to say what I think the cause of such harassment is, but I will claim outright that, at least here in Azerbaijan, there is a serious problem, and the only way to address it is head-on. That’s exactly what my students did, and I am so proud of them for that.
We added English subtitles so that those of you who do not speak Russian, Azerbaijani, and Avar will be able to understand it.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jtcq_w7h-vA&feature=youtu.be
Please share it!

After posting the video, I contacted the American organization who’s video first inspired ours. They were gracious enough to feature the video on their site!


 Join the movement! Enough is enough and we should all expect things to change immediately. Nothing short of complete respect is acceptable.

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