Rachel and I just got back from an outing. Yesterday we had a little sandstorm and it was hot and dusty all day so we stayed cooped up. Today, though, was bright and sunny and it felt, shockingly, cool, so we went out. (Side note: I described to Sara our 26°C/78.8°F as "actually quite cool").
On our way home I was, for the first time ever in the Middle East, touched inappropriately by a man. I was pushing the stroller and he was coming straight at me and didn't look like he was going to move, so I moved over, and he mirrored my movements. I was barely able to squeeze the stroller between him and the car beside me. As he walked by he patted my rear end and then kept on going.
I must say that in my pregnant state my behind is much more voluptuous and womanly than usual, so perhaps it was a little more tempting than before I was pregnant and had no rear end at all.
Still, it was uncalled for. So I stopped walking and turned around to yell at the guy.
"HEY, YOU!" I screamed, "DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Not that it was very helpful because I was screaming in English, but still, I felt like screaming, so I did.
He turned around and indicated that he was deaf by making some mute squeaking noises and pointing to his ears. Now, I'm sorry, but if you turn around to tell someone that you are deaf, chances are you aren't all that deaf.
"WHATEVER!" I yelled, "YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID AND YOU DID IT ON PURPOSE!"
He rolled his eyes, waved me off with his hands and kept walking. There wasn't much else I could do, so I turned around and harrumphed the stroller into action again. No sooner had I done so than I ran into a nice lady who was out on a stroll with her son, who was on a bicycle.
She asked me something in Arabic that I didn't understand. So I told her that I didn't understand.
She started yelling in Arabic and waving her arms. A policeman jogged over from wherever he was stationed. She continued to yell and pointed from me to the man who had touched me.
The policeman pulled out his revolver and ran over to the man, waving it and yelling. The man turned around.
The policeman said something and the man, again, insisted he was deaf. Apparently the policeman didn't think that deafness was any excuse for violating a lady's personal space. He wrote out a citation, took some money, and jotted down the man's ID number. Oh, and he yelled a lot.
"Pardon," said the lady, "هو مش كويس/He's not good. خلاص/It's over."
She gave me a small, timid embrace, "مع السلام جميلة/Goodbye, pretty."
I thanked her and we went our separate ways, she with her son, and me with my daughter.
And that was that. Maybe I overreacted a little, and things probably did escalate a little more than I expected them to. After all, the man probably didn't deserve to have an armed policeman confront him. But he did deserve some repercussion. He can't just go around touching women, thinking it's normal.
In general, I'm impressed with the respect that I, as a woman, command in the Middle East. Single women seem to have a harder time, but I don't seem to find much trouble here. The role of wife and mother are very respected.
There are creeps everywhere, though, who don't respect much of anybody. And maybe they do deserve to have cops with guns run after them every once in a while. Who's to say?