NYC Women Punched: As An Arab Woman, How To Feel Safe Yet Fearless?

Imagine walking in your neighborhood street, minding your own business, and out of nowhere, you stagger backward from the aftershocks of a good old punch in the face.

That was the fate of many women in their 20s and 30s strolling through Manhattan. Since March 17, a dozen women shared on TikTok and Instagram that they were attacked by strangers.

How Does It Relate To The Arab World?

In the Arab world alone, women have been having their own slew of attacks, moments of discomfort, and unexpected circumstances, whether in public transport, at the mall, or even in their own homes. For some, it’s a daily occurrence.

If we shift our gaze to Palestine, the situation takes a horrific turn. “They raped women, kidnapped women, executed women, and pulled dead bodies from under the rubble to unleash their dogs on them,” said Jamila al-Hissi, a Palestinian woman who was held captive at al-Shifa hospital.

Then there is the case of Habiba Al-Shamaa, the Egyptian girl who jumped out of an Uber car in Al Shorouk City after escaping an abduction attempt by the driver.

The Question Is: How Can Women Ever Feel Safer But At Peace?

This is a difficult question, as women will likely continue to face these occurrences on a daily basis. Yet, there can be a way to make them feel safer and less alone.

Learn Self-Defense

Being able to know how protect yourself while walking the streets can make all the difference for many women. There are actually many different types of self-defense classes for all levels whether abroad or in the region. Here is a list per Arab country:

Report The Crime

If you feel you are able to report the crime following the incident, there are different ways to do so that do not necessarily have to include reporting to the police. In Egypt for example, there is an instagram page called Assault Police that documents and highlights sexual violence against women. You can reach out to them and they will help.

In general, in most countries, you can also call your local police station, report the crime in detail and be ready for the fact that they will ask for evidence. Luckily things in the Middle East are looking up and local authorities are more than keen to help and offer support. Remember that reporting it bears no shame for the victim and will help lessen the severity for future victims.

Call Mental Health Help Lines

There are many times when women would not want to report a crime or talk about the incident even with family or friends. There is a way though to get support anonymously through mental health help lines. There are numbers you can call anonymously and on the other line there is a professional who can help you.

For Arab women living abroad whether in the UK, US, New Zealand and so on, you can hop on to this help guide for a full list of numbers you can call for different categories like abuse, domestic violence, addiction, bullying, etc.

When it comes to the Arab World, each country has several help lines, here are some:

Spark A Conversation

Beyond reporting, you can also spark a conversation. One way to do so is to start a conversation or thread on Facebook or Instagram. Spark a conversation about the topic with other women who have faced the same situation.

It’ll make you feel less alone and give you a semblance of peace. You can also create a group on Facebook and start your thread or conversation there, which can help with privacy and anonymity.

Seek Out Your Friends

Beyond social media, there’s the tried and true approach of merely seeking out your friends for a chat. By meeting up with them and telling them what happened, they can console you.

In many ways, not feeling alone and speaking up can help. For instance, when victims in NYC shared their experiences in TikTok videos, it helped the world learn about the incident and made them feel less alone.

Overall, don’t let it get to you; don’t let fear stop you from hitting the streets.

WE SAID THIS: Don’t Miss…Mental Health Above All: How To Deal With Negative Thoughts This Love-Centric Week