Yesterday, I’ve read an article called My Body Doesn’t Belong To You, where the author shared her story of being harassed on the road, probably because of her huge cup size. I suddenly remembered how I was teased back in 6th grade because of having very small boobs (something very opposite to the author’s issue). My male classmates would call me names like flat chested or airplane runway. I was so annoyed with them at that time and frustrated with my body specially my boobs for not growing up to the standard size. All my classmates were already wearing bras but I’m still using a ladies’ sando.
Later in life I realized how having small boobs is actually an advantage. Nothing jumps up and down when I run fast, people look into my eyes and not on my boobs when I talk, it’s easy to fit in clothes, I don’t attract any unwanted attention, I don’t get catcalled, I don’t get harassed. But that’s until I started being chased.
My first experience of this Catch Me If You Can game is when I was in Dubai, trying to cross a road. As there was no pedestrian lane, I was waiting for the cars to stop or disappear before I can cross the road. A car stopped in front of me. I thought he stopped because he was waiting for someone so I took several steps towards the rear of the car. He reversed until his front door is in front of me. His window was rolled down. He smiled and he motioned his head in a way that he’s calling me to get into his car. I ran and crossed the road regardless of how many cars were coming my way. I saw him sped up and took the u-turn to chase me. I ran and luckily found a small shop. I went inside. He parked his car outside the shop. I was walking around and around that small shop with only 2 back-to-back shelves trying to buy time. I felt like I was playing hide and seek but on this game, I don’t want to be found. After 15minutes his car was gone. I felt relieved. I waited for 10 more minutes before leaving the shop. As I stepped out of the shop, I saw his car about 10meters away from me. He found another girl to chase.
Once I was walking home from the metro station. I passed by a police car parked in front of a tea shop, the police men were having tea. I feel safe whenever I see them; it means nothing can happen as people in Dubai are scared of the police. But then just a few meters away from the police car, as I was walking I saw a car parked maybe 2 meters away from me. An old local guy was sitting on the driver’s seat, smiling at me with his crooked teeth. I ignored him and pretended that I didn’t see him. I turned left. His car followed me. I walked in a slow pace, took my phone and pretended to call someone. Then he left.
I was waiting for my shuttle service right in front of my office building when an old sports car stopped in front of me. I saw an Arab guy (but not a local), looking at me, and said Car Lift. (In Dubai, car lifts are private cars turned into taxi where people take during rush hour when taxis aren’t available). I said no. He asked in broken English, Where you go? I didn’t say anything and just walked towards the rear end of his car. He left after a few minutes. This scene happened in three consecutive days.
Once I was walking home, I heard someone shouting, Excuse me! Excuse me! I stopped as I thought it was a polite call, maybe I dropped something and someone wants to return it so I turned around. I saw an Indian guy, wearing an office attire, long sleeves and tie, running after me and when he stopped, he asked, Can I be your friend? I said but one word, No! I turned around, walked and took my phone. I glared back at him once more and checked if he was still following me but I was glad that he left.
One night, I was walking with a female friend. The streets were brightly lit up. I saw a car coming towards us, and I told her, this car will surely stop in front of us, as if I am already an expert in these kinds of experiences. She knew my Catch Me If You Can experiences and she can’t believe me as she has never experienced any so far. The car didn’t stop, it passed by us but it took a u-turn and it was behind us in no time. Inside the car was a local guy. He uttered something in Arabic which we didn’t understand. We continued walking and ignored him so he drove away. My friend said, this was my first experience of this kind of harassment but I’m sure he came for you, not for me. If I’m alone I wouldn’t have experienced that.
I thought about it. Maybe it’s not about the boobs anymore and I’m sure it’s not about my outfit. I always dress up modestly and if I’m not wearing office attire, I wear trashy clothes as I hate getting attention. I thought maybe it’s the nationality because some people in Dubai look down to others. So I asked 9 of my Filipina friends if they have experienced any such harassment but none of them did. So I’m the unlucky 1 out of 10 women and it’s not about the boobs, nor the outfit, nor the nationality. It’s about how they look at women in general.
So much for my experiences in Dubai and I’m glad that I moved here and for more than a year of living here in the Maldives, regardless of my cup size, my attire or my nationality, I only get chased by big yellow trigger fish and I definitely prefer that.