I was walking along a road in Cap Bon recently, having just finished a 15 km hike on a lonely track across the cliffs. This was the final stretch, back in ‘civilization’ between the beach and the village to get a bus. A man passed me on a mobylette, stopped up ahead, crossed the road to the central reservation, sat on a wall. Then he got out his dick and started wanking. Haha! so funny. I stood there amazed: right in front of me.. furiously pumping away (left handed!). I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Do guys have any idea how foolish they look in that situation? And oddly enough, how vulnerable?
Anyway, I summoned up the energy to shout: “Haram! Mamnour! Ayb! Forbidden! What the fuck?” He bent over double, turned away his face: “Desole madame” and carried on regardless.
So I kept my head down and carried on walking regardless too.
I told this story to my friend Vanessa when she was visiting. She described how, along with another woman, she was walking in northern Jordan. A local shepherd came and walked with them for a while. Friendly, relaxed. Cultural exchange. That’s what it’s all about. Suddenly she hears her friend comment calmly: “Vanessa, we have a situation here”. She turns to see the shepherd has taken out his penis, and is displaying it proudly, laid across his palm, like an offering. He gestures as if to say: “You want it?”. So they reassure each other, in English, that the situation is under control. Then they turn on the guy and in fluent Arabic give him the kind of tongue lashing he did not expect. Again, it’s the same sheepish reaction: “So sorry”. He shuffled away, hang-dog, tail between legs so to speak, and followed from a distance.
But then another man turned up. That’s when they felt worried: Out with the mobile phone, use the emergency number. Within 30 seconds, they had an English-speaking policeman on the line, taking down their details. They were told there would be a police vehicle there in ten minutes. By then the guys had disappeared. So no need for the vehicle. That’s a result.
Is this a story against Arab men? Absolutely not. ‘B’il axis‘. On the contrary. There are wankers all over the world. As a woman walker, you get used to them. The difference: if these incidents happened to me in Europe, I would be scared. Really scared. As in, ‘not sure I can get out of this situation without severe damage‘ scared.
So, in comparison, Tunisia is a relatively safe place for women to walk, even alone. As anywhere else, you assess the situation, insert emergency number on your mobile, take evasive action. Keep calm, pretend to be much angrier than you are. And learn to shout. Any language will do, they will get the message. Happy hiking.