Source: Al Arabiya

Despite being widespread across the region, sexual harassment remains a taboo in so many Arab communities. This probably explains why the phenomenon is shrouded with misconceptions that are just as untrue as they are common. 

To move forward, these must be dispelled, shattered, and smashed once and for all. 

For the victims who struggle in silence, for those who've mounted up the courage to speak up, here are a few things Arabs must stop getting wrong about sexual harassment:  

1. It's instigated by a victim's actions

As if the trauma of being violated isn't enough, women who are sexually harassed in the Arab world are also often subjected to a barrage of repulsive comments that blame them for being targeted. 

For people living in misogynistic societies, men can do no wrong, even if they're perverted harassers. So the common misconception is that if a woman is assaulted, it must be her fault. 

But let's just set things straight, a man who harasses a woman is a criminal who acts upon his twisted intentions regardless of what his victim does or doesn't do.

2. It depends on what the victim is wearing

If you're one of those ignorant human beings who still question what a woman was wearing when they hear about her being assaulted, this is for you. 

Whether we're covered from head to toe or wearing sleeveless tops, harassment is never our fault. 

3. It only happens if you're out late and depends on where you are

Another ridiculous theory some Arabs still use to make excuses for harassers: Women who are out too late or who hang out in specific places like nightclubs or pubs are "exposing themselves" and instigating harassment. 

Let's just say this again: What a woman says, does, or wears is completely unrelated to her being targeted and harassed. 

4. It doesn't happen to hijabis/niqabis

Some Arabs still believe women who dress modestly or wear the hijab don't get harassed.

Just a look at statistics in Muslim countries across the globe and in the region is enough to show how mistaken these people are. 

In Egypt - a country where the majority of Muslim women wear the hijab - 99 percent of women have experienced sexual harassmentIn Saudi Arabia, women are required to dress modestly and don abayas in public yet rates of sexual harassment are relatively high. 

Women were even harassed in one of the holiest places on earth, Mecca, during Hajj

5. It excludes catcalling and stalking

Unfortunately, so many Arabs tend to downplay catcalling and stalking in a bid to brush them aside as a form of flirting. 

But what they are is a form of harassment that's unacceptable and should not be tolerated. 

6. Harassers deserve a second chance

Arab harassers - especially those who are powerful, wealthy, and famous - tend to get away with sexual harassment.

Even those charged with rape, including Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred, somehow keep their careers going and reintegrate themselves into public life. 

Harassers like Egyptian footballer Amr Warda have colleagues who rally around them in a bid to brush aside their crimes as "mistakes." 

7. It's shameful to talk about experiencing it

Source: Unsplash

Women who speak up about being sexually harassed in the region become targets of online trolls who attack them for speaking up. 

Victim-shaming is real across our countries and keeps thousands of women from reporting abuse. 

8. Reporting it won't change anything

The stagnancy of Arab authorities when dealing with sexual harassment cases is shameful and inexcusable to say the least. 

That said, reporting abusers and legally fighting against them is one of the most important ways to ensure they are held accountable.