Alli’s Story: Harassment isn’t something to ignore

I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Morocco for about nine months and had been putting up with all kinds of harassment: groping, cat-calls, even a stalker. Once a man asked me, in Arabic, “how much?” as I walked past him, thinking I wouldn’t understand. Everyone I talked to about it kept telling me to ignore it, but this was easier said than done.

One afternoon, while walking home from work at the youth center, I heard smooching and kissing noises waft toward me from across the street. I looked up to see a skinny punk kid, maybe 15-years-old, smiling at me, then continuing to make the noises.

I don’t know what it was about this PARTICULAR incident, but I lost it. Before I knew what I was doing, I had stormed across the street and was in his face yelling at him in Arabic. “Why do you do that? Do you think I like it? What would your mother say? I’m a nice girl and you’ve never even met me.”

The kid was so bewildered, he just kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again. At the moment I felt like I had done some good in making at least one kid understand that this kind of behavior isn’t okay, but it just wasn’t enough. I eventually left Morocco under severe stress from constant harassment.

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