Al-Azhar has closely followed up the reports of sexual harassment incidents recently circulated by the mass media outlets and social media networks including harassers’ violent attacks on those trying to save women. Some claim that women’s clothes or behavior may justify this bad offense or put women partly to blame. In this context, Al-Azhar stresses that the sexual harassment, be it by sign language, in word or deed, is a forbidden and punishable deviation. A person with common sense would vehemently dislike this offense by nature and detest its dowers. Indeed, all laws, divine or manmade, criminalize this offense. God says, “The ones who hurt male believers and female believers for [something] other than what they have earned have certainly born upon themselves a slander and manifest sin” (Quran, 33: 58).
Further to this point, Al-Azhar firmly states that harassment is a criminal act that must be condemned beyond all justifications regardless of contexts and conditions. Putting girls to blame for a certain behavior or clothes is an expression of misunderstanding. The harassment incident violates women’s privacy, freedom and human dignity. The wide spread of this crime creates a feeling of insecurity since the honor and dignity lose immunity. Al-Azhar affirms that honoring women and showing kind treatment to them are indicative of the progress and urbanity of human societies as true signs of social stability and security. When the Prophet wanted to highlight the merits and lofty morals of Islam, he argued that women’s feeling of security is enough evidence for it. The Prophet is quoted to have prophesied: “[A day would come when] the lady in a Howdah travels from Al-Hira (near Kufa in Iraq) and (safely reaches Mecca) perform the Tawaf around the Kaʻbah, fearing none but God [i.e. fully safe and secure].”
In this context, Al-Azhar encourages the activation of all laws that punish sexual harassment incidents and calls on all concerned official bodies to raise social awareness about the forms and dangers of sexual harassment. This crime is destructive to ethics and morality, especially child harassment incidents. It is necessary to intensify media programs to educate citizens about their duties when being in the scene of this crime and about the proper way to protect women and victims, and detercriminals and molesters. Meanwhile, media outlets should avoid circulating any materials that justify this crime or create sympathy with its doers. Or else, theirconverge would in turn encourage others to followthe offenders in their evil way.
Al-Azhar Center for Translation