A week ago, Skärholmsbon Gurleen Kaur Sahota was attacked and called for a “whore” due to her attire. Derogatory comments and verbal assaults are received by her on a daily basis.
By – Brünnhilde
Her advice? “Dress how you want it. It’s your body and nobody else owns it.”
It was during her lunch break in Liljeholmen a week ago that she was physically attacked for the first time. The violent interaction began when an unknown man commented on her attire.
“He was very heated and aggressive, maybe intoxicated or under some influence. In any way, I do not know. Initially I ignored his comments, but in the end I could not stand it anymore and asked him what the problem was. Then he exploded. He grabbed ahold of me, spat in my face, called me a whore and said that I should shut up along with a bunch of other things,” she recounted, continuing:
“I live in Sweden, I should be able to dress just how I want, even in bikini, without being called whore.”
“I was in shock, I could not do anything. There were a lot of people around us, but unfortunately nobody reacted. Afterwards I suffered from panic attacks. I did not dare to go out for several days after and I still feel it.”
Why do you think he just chose you?
“I think it’s because I’m young and appear to be very foreign. If I didn’t, I would have been more okay,” she explained. “He felt as if he had the power to do something. He was foreign and I do not think he would have done the same to a blonde Swedish person.”
Afterwards, Gurleen Kaur Sahota eventually reported the incident.
Although it was the first time she was physically attacked, Kaur Sahota said that she would receive similarly aggressive comments a daily basis.
“For example, in Skärholmen there are often men staring because I dress as I want. I get mean angry looks and comments. To be called ‘whore’ is common. Because of this, I had moved away from Skärholmen for a while to live in Nacka. Now I’ve moved back, but it’s getting tougher and more insecure, so I’m trying to get out again,” she explains.
Although gender norms exist more or less throughout society, she believes that the clothes of choice affect more in the eyes of some, compared to others, in the suburbs.
“Most often it occurs in older men and women. They are so used to their customs and cultures that women must cover the body to maintain the family’s honor that they get a shock when someone is dressed differently. And then there are those who immediately sexualize girls as soon as they have less clothes on them. Unfortunately, I’m getting more looks here than when I was in the center.”
Comments are thrown at her, not just in the public space. Even online, people verbally criticize her in how she chooses to dress and behave. A couple of days ago, she was called out on Facebook by a man who thought she was not a righteous Sikh.
“It’s great job. You try to realize that it’s part of everyday life. But it should not be, I should not have to cover myself from top to toe to avoid getting comments? I live in Sweden, I should be able to dress just how I want, even in bikini, without being called a hora,” she says.
“Stand on you. Do not be afraid of the men’s eyes and comments. Dress how you want it, it’s your body and nobody else owns it. And does anyone call you hora – so what?”
Yesterday, the Moderators party went out of their minds to chart and legislate against “the moral policemen of the suburbs”. Gurleen Kaur Sahota, who is active in the association, is skeptical.
“I do not think it’s possible to categorize it as just a suburb problem. It only creates more hatred and segregation. It will encourage a ” we against them ” attitude. I think it’s more important for people to integrate and we must, all together, take responsibility for and help with the integration. It will pay off later,” she says.
She thinks, among other things, that religious schools should be banned and responsible parenting should be introduced.
“And we must create change together. Look at the male-dominated cafes – there should be groups of women walking down, chilling out and challenging it,” she proclaimed boldly. “Show everyone that now we are in Sweden, we live here and now for Swedish values.”
What advice can you give to young girls living in similar structures?