So in my last post, I was complaining that I feel a bit like I am in prison – with all the work and safety issues, I can’t leave the hotel alone. We move from hotel to the car then to the next building then back, hardly walk anywhere, etc…. I haven’t really been alone except for sleeping in my room. Over the past 2 days, I got a bit closer to the reality as to why
We decided to go to a mall for lunch and do some shopping. Even though the mall was about 400 meters from the hotel – we drove. We enter the mall with full blown security scanning and I immediately feel as if I am in a gladiator arena. Imagine a round building with 3 floors going up, and you walk in on the ground floor. There are hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of young men standing over the railing looking down – and since we are the only white people or tourists anywhere, dressed in western clothes and I am the youngest and whitest with light hair – it feels as if 90% of those eyes are on me. Pictures are taken, videos are taken, everyone just stares…..constantly. They slow down and walk behind you or with you. So we walk into a store similar to H&M or so and there are men there as well, in women’s department just standing and watching. It feels creepy, intimidating and a bit scary… thankfully I stayed close to my two teammates, Colin and Tony who basically acted as my bodyguards (and big thank you to both of them for watching and staying close). We then walked to a restaurant for lunch where the staring continued, a few women asked to take a picture with us – one even asked for me to hold her baby (gorgeous little 2 months old with make up on!) and took a picture. It all felt very very surreal… and I couldn’t get out of there soon enough.
I had very mixed feelings – relieved that we are out, exhausted from being so alert, disappointed that I will not be able to see or do anything by myself, sad for all the other women who live here everyday, worried for any of the women traveling here alone.
This happens pretty much anywhere we go – and are not in the car – so I am not complaining that we drive even 100 meters or go from hotel to a building or restaurant anymore. Just a bit disillusioned that women have to go thru this everyday .. and many of them without the safety net of my car, hotel or friends.
When I read this I was glad you are safe, sad for you that you cannot truly experience all of the local culture, proud of you for being brave and for showing grace by allowing your fellow females to approach you. But I am fearful for all women – even those of us who can thank God for living in a free society because as long as it is ‘ok’ for women to be ogled and victimized elsewhere it is a threat to us, to our mothers and to our daughters. I have been reading your posts but this one compelled me to respond. Be safe and God bless.
Thank you Sharon, it has been a pretty sad afternoon – eye opening. I read news about this but haven’t experienced it by myself – just thought this happens only sometimes, in dark alleys somewhere in rural areas. But a city of 1.2 million, in a western mall over lunch time – just really made it real. I agree with you – sad state of the world if this happens even in the darkest places in the world. Noone should have to go through this and I am sure this was not that bad in comparison.
[…] with my team, get some face time and roll up sleeves and work. So, no 5 cities in a week rodeo or a month with a need for bodyguards – plus I had a whole weekend for […]