Skip To Content

    These Women Are Sharing Stories Of Being Sexually Harassed During Pilgrimage In Saudi Arabia

    "I was just terrified but I couldn't make myself move."

    Women are sharing their experiences of being sexually harassed and assaulted while on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

    Alaa Fowila, 21, from Egypt, was a teenager when she made Umrah.

    "It was during Ramadan in 2014," she told BuzzFeed News via Facebook messenger, "during Tawaf I felt a hand squeezing my butt and I looked around to notice who it is but there were a lot of people.

    "I couldn't know who it was exactly but I did doubt someone since he was smiling, but the thing is I didn't want to point at him since he was too old."

    Fowila joined others sharing their stories after a woman called Sabica Khan posted on Facebook about her recent experience of pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

    She started her post by apologizing in case she hurt anyone's "religious sentiments", before describing how she had been sexually harassed and assaulted while making pilgrimage to Islam's most holy city.

    Her post was shared more than 2,000 times, and many women commented underneath that they had also experienced sexual harassment while in Mecca.

    One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was 13 when she visited the holy city and was assaulted.

    Nabila, who only wished to have her first name used, said she was 17 when she visited Mecca and everything that happened was "a bit blurry".

    After Khan's viral Facebook post, women began sharing their stories on Twitter too.

    The one that happened to me in Makkah, I entered a cab from Haram and the driver placed his hand on my thigh and sq… https://t.co/OBDJDncC1o

    When getting harassed near the ka'bah is a norm, you know we have serious sexual harassment issues to deal with but… https://t.co/jexnbEs3Hn

    My mother (a woman in her sixties!) came back from hajj–several times– with what she described as the worst sexual… https://t.co/P7eSyPy5Ag

    Many said they were grateful that people were starting to talk about this issue.

    I am glad to see women are speaking out about being sexually harassed during Hajj. Several years ago, i shared my o… https://t.co/3jOyTpLBPZ

    BuzzFeed News has contacted Khan for comment.