KhaleejiGirl (KG) Interviews Jawaher from @catcallsofbahrain
@KhaleejiGirl is known for how bold the virtual magazine is. But we met our match when we found someone who is even bolder than us! Meet Jawaher from @catcallsofbahrain in this part 1 interview about harassment in Bahrain.
KG: Please state your names and where you’re from.
A: Hi. My name’s Jawaher and I’m an ethnically Persian Bahraini.
KG: Please describe the journey that led you towards being in your current occupation.
A: Well I’ve always wanted to have an account where I post photos of every catcaller I come across, but I can’t due to legal reasons. During the past few months, I’d see @catcallsofcairo all over Instagram. I searched for "@catcallsof” (insert every Arab/GCC country) and there were none other than Cairo. That’s when I decided to create my account. I was inspired by the feminist revolution in Egypt- people like Zeina from @catcallsofcairo, Mona Eltahawy, and Farida D are big inspirations to me. I started off the account alone, but recently my friend Luna has been quite resourceful, so she currently runs it with me.
KG: Was it an easy journey that led you here?
A: To be honest, running the account is a relatively easy task. We don’t get much hate and I have an autopilot response to almost every form of hate I get in my comments. I hear these uneducated comments relatively often here in Bahrain. However, dealing with the everyday catcalls, harassment, and lack of education is extremely tiring. That’s why I’m glad I have this platform not only to educate the people of Bahrain, but also to voice survivors.
KG: What advice do you have for a younger @Khaleejigirl who is considering following your footsteps?
A: Speak out, but read the penal code, read the cybercrime law, and talk to a lawyer before making any petitions or speaking negatively about an article of the law. The laws here are a bit complex, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
KG: Can women reach out to you in case they have been catcalled?
A: Yes, but when someone reaches out to us, all we can do is post their experience and refer them to a professional. We are not professionals ourselves. If one is seeking help, I recommend contacting Shamsaha AND the police station. Shamsaha can refer you to lawyers and accompany you to the police station as well.
KG: Do you see an impact from creating his account?
A: Yes! We get messages everyday from women and men thanking us for educating Bahrain and voicing survivors! These messages truly make my day. We also get people in our comments and DMs promising they’d report the next catcall they experience thanks to our post about article 351. Even on my personal account, I see influencers posting my content. I think awareness and education are a great first step towards changing the societal stigma towards women and survivors.
KG: Do you have anything else you’d like to add that may be important for the @KhaleejiGirl audience to know?
A: Did you know that marital rape is not a recognized crime in Bahrain? It’s not a recognized crime in any single GCC country except for Qatar. Also, harassment and rape are a lot more common than you think, rape statistics are inaccurate as most go unreported and are often dealt with families behind closed doors.
Moreover, I’d like to thank every single survivor who has shared their experiences, and every person who shares, follows, or even reads my posts. Additionally, I’d like to thank thank Luna Skjold, Haya Khalifa, and Mai Hussein for being so benevolent :)
Tune in for part 2 of the interview from the co-owner of @catcallsofbahrain. You don't want to miss it!