This story was narrated to a Not Your Body writer by a female Somali human rights activist who requested anonymity for safety reasons.
“I attended a meeting for my work and was seated in the front of a room full of people, preparing to listen to a presentation. My country is conservative so of course I was covered up from head to toe. A man came up to me and told me to go all the way to the back of the room.
‘Why?’, I asked him. ‘I came here first. Why should I give up this spot?’
‘You are a beautiful woman’, he said. ‘And you are distracting the men’.
I was so very mad.
‘No’, I told him.
‘You must go’, he insisted. ‘You will distract everyone’.
‘No’, I repeated. ‘I am NOT going to move from this seat. Good luck’.
Defeated, he left me alone.
“I resent the fact that I and other women have to make a living out of our bodies so we can have a life”