How to understand Taharrush gamea?

There has already been quite some discussion about Taharrush gamea, this phenomenon which nobody wants (me neither), but which many have obvious difficulties to understand.

The last contribution which came to my attention was Fredrik Sonck’s suggestion (in Hbl of 21.01., p.25) that one should translate the term simply as ”grupptrakasserier”, which to my mind does not help much in the way of understanding the (possible) motivations involved … . And if one wants to do something against it it might in fact be helpful to get a clearer idea about the motivations.

The thing which comes first to my mind in this context is some discussion which I had with a friend with whom I had been going to school and who had since spent his professional life as a teacher in an area of Bremen which was known as ”difficult”, among others because of the very high percentage of pupils from immigrant backgrounds in the schools. We were discussing Islam, and after pointing to the fact that the largest Islamic nation we have is Indonesia (with whom we have hardly any trouble) I was breaking out into the sweeping suspicion that it were my impression that ”all those Middle Eastern guys have simply been too much celebrated from the very beginning for the simple fact that they were boys instead of one of those contemptible girls”. Upon which he calmly corrected me by saying: ”Arabs, just Arabs.” This was based on his decades of experience at school, according to which, e.g., Turks were really not as bad as Arabs in just this respect. And on top of this discussion there are of course impressions from what I have been reading sometimes. What, e.g., to think of a father who invites the wider family to witness the enforced drowning of his daughter in the house’s swimming pool because he thinks that she has in some way brought shame on the family – without any Saudi court lifting a finger afterwards? And then there are of course the impressions from reading the Old Testament, which comes from that region and whose standards may well have survived in some of the local societies.

Altogether, the impression arises that especially in the Arab world women are quite generally considered as a lower category of (hardly) human beings. From which, in turn, comes to mind that Taharrush gamea might very well be something similar to lynching as earlier practiced in the southern states of the USA, i.e. an activity by which a mob of members of the ”superior” category of mankind is demonstrating to all of the ”inferior” members that they should not even dream of having any means or rights against those ”superiors”. And the motivations involved could, accordingly, have more to do with an intention to humiliate than with sex. – All of which does not change much about our opinion that any such behaviour should certainly be stopped.

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4 Responses to How to understand Taharrush gamea?

  1. Bert says:

    Om vi inte tror att araberna har en misogyn gen i sitt DNA – vilket vi förhoppningsvis inte tror – så är det väl nog vissa avarter av islam som är skyldiga. Utan att vara nån islamkännare eller ens speciellt kristen så kan en väl med säkerhet påstå att alla fundamentalistiska sekter, kristna likaväl som muslimska, hör fan till ;-)

    • Ernst Mecke says:

      As a biologist, I believe in these matters not in DNA but rather in imprinting (which in turn produces ”culture” and neurosis). As to Islam, the Koran was presumably at its time a very progressive religion, also in matters of women’s rights. But (a) I did not read the Hadith (= a collection of sayings of the prophet), thus do not know what is said there, (b) it is such a question what a student of the Koran is in fact learning (is he learning it as some type of liturgy, which is then interpreted to him/her on the basis of local tradition, or is it allowed to use one’s head on the text?), (c) we know that Wahhabite Islam is the form predominant in Saudi Arabia, that it is very strictly fundamentalist, and that it is being promoted internationally with plenty of Saudi Arabian oil money (e.g. by supporting just extremist preachers), (d) we know that also Islam is an offshoot of the Old Testament, where e.g. Moses, an obvious egocentric sexual neurotic, is celebrated, same as the laws which he was issuing, and we also know that the US Christian Right is often and eagerly referring just to the Bible when again trying to subject women to still more control, and (e) I see just sexual neurosis (as spread by preachers of Islam and also the Old Testament) as an important factor which results in hatred and contempt of women, resulting in things like Taharrush gamea.

  2. a-k says:

    Bara ett påminnande om att termen ”heder” inte bör användas i sammanhang där familjer begår utstuderat grymt våld mot kvinnliga medlemmar; det är brott och särskilt skamligt, för förövarna, alltså. Att hänvisa till det som ”heder” är inte bara en missriktad ordalydelse, utan tjänar till att rättfärdiga den särskilda grymheten.

    • Ernst Mecke says:

      Well, I did not either use terms like ”honour” or ”heder”. Of course these terms are (unluckily) around, but the term which we could use most adequately for those fundamentalist forms of ”heder” would be ”neurosis”, i.e. something which people have unluckily picked up in early childhood by imprinting, but which one can still demand that they should control (or ask for help if they feel unable to do so).


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