???_??????_????_???_????# (The first time I was harassed was at the age..) is a hashtag that originated back in 2011 when a girl shared her story, and has been recycled recently by Alla Emad founder of Malaksh Feha, a campaign that targets passive men. Whether through their original accounts or anonymously, victims have been breaking their silence and responding massively to the hashtag that has been circulating Facebook and trending on Twitter. While some might assume that this is only a matter of concern for females, a fair share of males engaged in the hashtag and shared their stories as well. Despite how tragic and heart-breaking all stories are, this a step forward that foretells good things lying ahead, and neither females nor males will be shushed anymore. Here are a few stories that have been shared on Social Media:
Male Participant 1:
I was only ten years old when a teacher at school tried to harass me and I fought back.
Male Participant 2:
I was 17 years old and it was in the Thanaweya Amma Algebra Test.
Male Participant 3:
I was 5 when my Grandpa used to send me to a seller of grocers to buy him things. The man who harassed me was in his mid-thirties, he used to take me in his store and he used to put his hands on my arse. The incident was repeated several times, and like any other child I didn’t talk for a while. Then I told my Grandpa and he never sent me to that store again. I just hope no one asks what I was wearing, because it was something long and loose.
Female Participant 1:
TV presenter Yasmine El-Khateib shared her story through a tweet, stating that her first time was at the age of 6, and by a pharmacist. She added that ever since then, the attempts haven’t stopped even when she was rushed into Shorouk Hospital’s Emergency room, and was in a severe state her doctor harassed her.
Female Participant 2:
I was six when it first happened, I was at my Grandma’s house wearing my pajamas and my body was even relatively weak. My then 27-year-old uncle came to me and suggested that we play some music and dance to it as a game. I was by all means comfortable, I was an idiot and I didn’t doubt a thing. Out of nowhere, he approached me and kissed me on the lips, that is when I started freaking out. The next thing I know, he was putting his hands down my pants. He got out his penis and started taking off my clothes. By then I was shivering and crying, but then he heard my Grandma calling out and so he let me go. I put on my clothes and ran away. What killed was that 2 days later, he harassed my cousin in the bathroom and I couldn’t defend her or say anything to anyone because I was too scared.
Female Participant 3:
I was 7 years old when my Grandpa harassed me. At first I didn’t even understand what was happening but I’ll never forget the incident. When I was old enough to realize what had happened, he was already dead. If I had known earlier I would have made him pay for it.
Female Participant 4:
At age 9, part of my genital organ was removed and yes, it is considered harassment. Those who touch us or even verbally harass us on the street aren’t any different from those who take off our clothes and injure us while allegedly pretending to protect us. Whoever considers this legitimate should have his hand, leg or even male organ cut while fully awake and then he can tell us what it feels like.
Female Participant 5:
I was just a 4-year-old on my way back from the nursery. It had just stopped raining and the street was full of pools of water. I stopped to watch some boys throw stones in it to make circles. One boy saw me and he started running after me down the street. He tied my hands and tried to kiss me, but I hit him and ran away home devastated. When I told my mom later about it, she only responded with one question; “Did any of the neighbors see you?”
This is only a fraction of the truth. It is a sample of thousands of stories shared on this hashtag to open the curtains on how tragic our society is, and how sizeable the crisis is. The initiator of the Hashtag, Alla decided through her Malaksh Feha Campaign page to announce the new hashtag ???_???_????_??????# (The first time I stopped a harasser) with the purpose of urging males to share stories about times when they defended girls and stood up for them.