No Trump, sexual harassment is not “locker-room talk”

Published: October 12, 2016

So what Donald Trump so casually attributes to as “locker-room talk” and “two men just talking” is a reality for millions of people around the world. There are people who have been subjected to sexual violence and forced to stay silent because “it’s just what men do” or because “there’s no point in fighting something when there’s no proof” or, the saddest justification of them all: “maybe it was my fault.”

There are millions of people like myself, around the world who don’t talk about their experience. I grew up in a society where it is taboo to use the word ‘sex’ let alone have conversations about sexual assault, because:

“What would the world think?”

And because:

“.. Oh, it must be your fault somehow.”

Or

“Oh, you’re a man, how could you let that happen to you?”

Men, women and children are too afraid to report it, hell too afraid to even talk about it with their families. No one wants to air their dirty laundry because you’re worried “log kya kahein ge!” (what will people say!)

Our parents tell us to stay away from strangers, when, in fact, at times it’s the people who they trust the most that rob them of their innocence, because the child/individual trusts them. Most stories have assailants who the victim or the family already know or trust – just like in mine.

For years, certain people my family had trusted violated their trust by robbing a barely teenaged boy of his innocence under the pretext that “you’ll enjoy this” or “isn’t this fun?”

When they realised that I was too afraid to talk about it, they began to tell other people (my friends, cook, driver, hell – my own milk man) and they would all come over and do things that I have been too ashamed to talk about for the last 10 years of my life. I have, to this day, blamed myself for it, because somehow I thought it was my fault – I feared that if I went to my parents with it, I would be blamed.

Sexual assault isn’t a build up, its sudden and shocking. It leaves no room for a person to react and when it’s over, a victim is left with confusion, anger, guilt, self-blame and sadness. Broken, shaken and disgusted to the core. And sadly, in most cases, a victim quietly and painfully swallows their experience(s) because nobody ever told them that it’s not their fault.

It was not your fault! You are not to blame for the animalistic, power hungry, predator like behaviour of a person who dehumanises you, objectifies you and touches you without consent because they think it’s their right to do so. Sexual assault takes away a part of your soul; it is something you never forget and it plunges you into darkness because there is a potpourri of emotions that flow through you – anger, disgust, sadness, helplessness and defeat – all at once. Someone took away from you that which was never theirs, without your consent. It leaves you hollow, a void that can never be filled, no matter how hard you try. It shakes the core of your soul. It becomes a reality of your life, that you try to tuck away under the fake smile you put up to the world and pretend that all is good in wonderland. All because some vile, excuse of a human being decided that you “want it” or “you were asking for it.”

So let me tell you this, sexual assault is nothing to joke about, it’s not “locker-room banter” and it’s certainly not justifiable just because “they did it too”. It’s a crime, its vile and it’s dehumanising. There is no justification for it, not even when you’re a ‘star’ – especially when you want to become the leader of the free world. You are telling millions of Americans and billions of people around the world that it is okay to sexually assault someone and then joke about it? This is not what our future generations would like to remember us for; to not stand up to a demagogue, a rapist and an animal who preys on the darkest parts of human life.

Your body is yours – no one has the right to violate it. Sexual violence hides in plain sight. So, if you have the strength, talk about it and make other people comfortable in talking about their experience(s) and when they do, believe them! Do your part in making this world a safe place.

Ahmed Hayat

Ahmed Hayat

The author studies Developmental Psychology and works for the University of Alberta. He is an advocate of equality and love. Although far from home, his love for his country is undying. He tweets @ah_med_hayat (twitter.com/ah_med_hayat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    I empathize with what you have to say ……. Let me say right out that I am no big fan of Donald Trump but to be fair, given the bigger picture involved, how serious are the charges being levied against him ? keeping in mind he is a product of American society…… let us not forget Kennedy, Clinton and others, many of whom made great presidents.Recommend

  • Kazi Ashraf

    I am amazed that great technology leaders like Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai come from India, but again they became what they are today after they left your land of ignorance, bigotry, hatred and a stark lack of general knowledge. Your knowledge and ideas about Islam are as good as your’s and your leaders concepts and contempt for human rights. One persons’s act does not reflect a whole religion. Does this news reflect whole Hinduvta? http://www.abc15.com/news/crime/pd-hindu-priest-accused-of-child-molestation-some-incidents-occurring-in-phoenix-temple-officeRecommend

  • Fahim

    I don’t know this incident and molvi but I know several mosques in which this is happening in name of religion, tableegh and religious mehmil.Recommend