Facing street harassers in a daily basis in my own home country is really ironic. So far, I haven’t found any place that I’ve visited to compare with the emotional experience that I get for being harassed in Indonesia. Well, Philippines sort of comparable but it was not this bad, maybe because I didn’t understand the language. What I had in mind was street harassers would only bother you when you dress inappropriately, but NO, I was wrong, even when you dress appropriately and well covered, they are, in fact, still bothering you. Or maybe it has something to do with the eastern or religious culture to put a man above the woman, but Yessi has proven it wrong during her visit in Malaysia. Maybe I should compare the harassment in Indonesia with some desert countries where the religious culture is much more strict, but you know what? My Indonesian solo female traveller fellow, Marina Utami, proves it wrong too.
So long story short, Marina Utami is my new friend, a professional travel blogger from Indonesia. She approached me to have my story to be featured in her monthly edition of Indonesian Superwoman. Eventually, I might be November baby, but I am September Superwoman on her blog. In return, I requested her to tell me about her travel experience that could prove any misconception about place that she had visited wrong. I am very honoured that she accepted my request. Even better, the misconception is about one of the desert countries.
Here we go, the misconception proven wrong about Morocco in her own words.
“You’re going to Morocco ALONE?” , that is exactly the reaction I always get when I told my friends that I was going to spend my summer time in Morocco. Don’t get me wrong, after living in Europe for some time, most of my friends decided to have some trips across the majestic European architecture. But not me. The Sahara Desert was on my bucket list, and I have been dying to cross that one for some years. As I finally able to plan on that trip, I started talking with some friends who have been there and all of their response were the same.”Morocco is not safe for woman”. A guy friend even made a joke telling me that I should wear Burqa instead. And it goes on to the travel blogs that I have read, all of them informed that Morocco is a harsh country for women. Some even cried and went back home after 2 days stayed there. And this comes into my mind, is Morocco really that bad?
- The misconception about the woman safeness
Yes, I probably the first woman who dare to write this. If you ladies have been travelling on a backpack alone in Indonesia, you will probably know how hard it is. The messy transportation, the flirty guys who always call you on the street, the cheap yummy street food, the undisciplined cultures of queuing and so all. So I am pretty sure that you already been through the downside of it all. I believe that travelling in Indonesia is the hardest test you could ever imagine. And when you already passed this test – trust me – you can travel anywhere you want and you can still say that travelling in Indonesia was the hardest, craziest yet satisfying trip of your life.
Guess what? Morocco is no less different than what you had in Indonesia. And the good thing is, that when I told them that I am also a Muslim, they started feeling awe and thought that I was their family. My insider tips when you visit here is to starts talking some Arabic words – such as ‘Assalamualaikum’ for greetings. The locals will respect you more. I had a blast time with my guide in the Sahara Desert – a Berber young man who took care of my needs for one night trip. He even took me to the middle of the desert watching the stars and play some games. It was magical view yet a heartwarming friendship feeling.
So there you go – it’s a bonus point for being Indonesian. You can definitely backpack across Morocco!
The misconception about the female harassment
When people start to say that Moroccan men start harassing them, this is what I want to ask them first: “Do you dress properly?”. I know that the weather is super hot and you just couldn’t care less about your appearance – but hey, Moroccan do. In fact, their Islamic culture is pretty strict when it comes to how you dress, almost the same with the Muslim area in Indonesia such as Java and Sumatera islands. And so, if you were in a public area wearing tank top and shorts, the guys will start to watch and calls you – and this is how you start saying about the female harassment. I have to say I do have the advantage of my physical appearance – black hair and Asian looks – whereas most Moroccan hunt the Westerners. But I do believe, if you start dressing properly like wearing a scarf on your hair (like hijab), sunglass and long sleeve shirt – they will not target you. As Muslims believe that heaven belongs at the foot of their mother, the Moroccan men also would not try to harm any women.
When my Couchsurfing host in Marrakesh took me out on my first night to watch football in a cafe, I was shocked – there were no women. Turns out watching football in a cafe is what most men do, whilst women stay at home. So there I was sitting on a table with my host screaming about Real Madrid. I was the only woman, and add on, a foreigner in that place filled with men. Did they start harassing me? Nope. They offered me tea and tried to communicate with me with their broken English. I just couldn’t believe how friendly they were!
This story is something that I never had in mind before about Morocco. It really gets me curious and want to put Morocco on my travel list. Honestly, I never had any interest to visit Morocco due to the fear of getting worse harassment than in Indonesia. Well, I do have some friends and colleagues from Morocco but I consider them to be more “International” people because they’ve been expatriated in many places all around the world so I don’t count them as a real local Moroccans.
In conclusion, if you have dressed appropriately and still getting harassed, the problem is not in you. There is something really wrong in their tiny brains that unable them to have a decent attitude and respect ANY women (can’t imagine how they treat their mothers, wives and daughters).
In my opinion, harassers in my home country is a prove of an education’s failure.
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