A Short Comparison of Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’ and Islamic Game ‘Taharrush’

Sexual harassment and rapes were never discussed in Egypt before 2006. The public used to blame the western influence which intruded Egyptian culture. Mass sexual assault in Egypt was first reported in detail during the Egyptian constitutional referendum on 25 May 2005, on what is known as ‘Black Wednesday’. The matter was first time reported by the ‘Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights.’ A large number of men sexually assaulted women and the police remained mute spectators.
Again such mass molestation pulled the global attention during the holidays of Eid al-Fitr in 2006, when on 24 October a mob of young Muslim men who were not given free-entry in a movie show in Cairo, indulged in a five-hour mass sexual assault and rapes in Talaat Harb Street. Police again remained the mute spectator. Even no bystander tried to protect the women.
The first time, such mass molestation was reported outside Egypt or any Muslim countries in February 2011 when the reporter for the American network CBS, Lala Logan, was sexually molested by hundreds of Muslim men in now notoriously famed Tahrir Square. According to a famous Egyptian newspaper the Al Akhbar, such molestation is a ‘permanent feature’ of religious festivals in Egypt.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_sexual_assault_in_Egypt#cite_note-AndersonCBS1May2011-18)
‘Taharrush,’ also known as the ‘rape game’ is originated in Arabic countries in which non-Muslim women or enemy women are surrounded by mobs of Muslim men and sexually molested. Only after the 2011 riots in Egypt, the world came to know about their existence.
‘There remains debate about what defines ‘taharrush’ – some still insist it is a reference to flirting – though scholars argue its definition changed after the attacks seen in Egypt from 2011 onward.
(Daily Mail: The Arabic gang-rape ‘Taharrush’ the phenomenon which has spread to Europe)
‘The Arab phenomenon first came to the attention of the Western world when South African reporter Lara Logan, working for CBS, was set upon by a large group of men while reporting on celebrations in Tahrir Square, Egypt, in 2011.’
(Daily Mail: idem.)
Lala Logan, the CBS correspondence that was the victim of sexual molestation in Egypt in 2011, described the horrifying nightmare:
‘Logan recounted her ordeal in Egypt several months later on a 60 Minutes broadcast, describing how the baying crowd ‘raped me with their hands’.
The 44-year-old exposed petrifying facts of the 40 minute-long February assault in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, narrated how she was pulled out from members of her group after somebody in the furious 200-strong mob shouted ‘Let’s take her pants off.’
She said: ‘Suddenly, before I even know what’s happening, I feel hands grabbing my breasts, grabbing my crotch, grabbing me from behind. I mean, and it’s not one person and then it stops, it’s like one person and another person and another person.’
(Daily Mail: idem).
In Cologne, Germany, on December 31st, 2015, a crowd of around one thousand Muslims men who were African and Arab infiltrators, molested women. By the end of January 2016, over one thousands such cases had been reported of mass sexual assaults.
(Wikipedia: New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Germany)
A swift search of ‘Taharrush’ will give dozens of examples and videos on the Muslim festival. One can see so many videos on YouTube about this.
(YouTube: Taharrush Gamea – the fun sex game of the Muslim world)
So in quintessence, what Taharrush is when a mob of Muslim men enclose a female or females and forcefully pulls out them from their colleagues and then start to pull her clothes off the victim(s) while molesting them bodily and sexually. This generally contains both groping and rape by multiple attackers. Their real faith appears when they are in groups. Taharrush is a testimony of that.
Taharrush jama’i or gama’i (Egyptian like transliteration) ?????? ??????? just means sexual harassment that is done by a group of men. The world came to know about the dark side of Islamic nations after the so-called Arab spring when a mob of men exploited the situation and raped and molested the women during a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Abhishek Saksena writes, in Taharrush – The Sickening And Terrifying Arab Rape Game That Is Spreading Across Europe, August 02, 2016, ‘when the first incidents of women being assaulted by crowds of Arab men came out of Cologne, Germany, during New Years, the news was being suppressed. Realisation…Yes, a disgusting game, brought to Europe by the hordes of refugees seeking asylum.
…similar incidents have occurred in Berlin, Hamburg, Bielefeld, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart…other European nations such as Austria and Switzerland have also reported similar cases.
(NEWOBSERVERONLINE)
Taharrush is about large groups of Arab men surrounding their victims and then subjecting them to sexual assault. They form circles around women, and if there are enough men, drag the women along with the mob, rip their clothes off and physically assault them…
(REUTERS)
Women cry but nobody comes for help. The game is an Islamic game and common in all other Arab nations. In most of the cases, women from other faiths and sects are the victims. In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, local Christian and foreign journalists were the victims.
The Mail Online published a full report on Saturday, Jun Ist 2019, ‘The Arabic gang-rape ‘Taharrush’ phenomenon which sees women surrounded by groups of men in crowds and sexually assaulted… and has now spread to Europe.’
Corey Charlton, writes in Mail Online, 12 January 2016/ Updated, 1 February 2017.
1-The Arabic term ‘taharrush’ roughly translates to ‘collective harassment’.
2-It refers to sexual assaults carried out by groups of men in public places.
3-Surrounded by dozens of attackers, lone women are groped or raped.
4-The phenomenon was first seen in 2011 when a reporter was attacked.
5-Lara Logan endured an assault while reporting on the protests in Egypt.
6-Police say attacks in Cologne marked Europe’s first instance of taharrush.
7-The attack usually goes unpunished because of the large number of perpetrators and chaos of the attack.
Still, due to overdose of human rights and influence of Wahabi donations, western countries are not taken this problem seriously and rapist are neither arrested nor punished. In Cologne city centre in New York, hundreds of German women were sexually molested but none of the criminals was punished.
It was revealed that as she was pulled into the frenzy the camera recorded her shouting ‘Stop.’ It was revealed that someone in the crowd falsely shouted out that she was an Israeli Jew.
Angie Abdelmonem, a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University, recently published a study into the instances of ‘taharrush’ seen during the Egyptian Revolution.
‘This [perception] shifted on February 11, the day Mubarak stepped down, with the mob assault and rape of CBS correspondent, Lara Logan,’ she wrote.
‘Between 2011 and 2013, sexual harassment became common at protests in Tahrir Square, exemplified by several highly publicized violent attacks that demonstrate how women’s bodies became objectified and dehumanized during the uprising.’
A teenager named only as Michelle (pictured), 18, described how the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne a fortnight ago turned into targeted and coordinated attacks on women.
The chaos outside the Cologne cathedral saw fireworks launched into the crowd and hordes of drunken Arab or North African men assaulting women, German police said.
Leaked police reports later emerged showing officers were unable to stop the disorder and they were swamped by upset women at the scene claiming they had been sexually assaulted. German police believe it was ‘taharrush’ committed in Cologne and other cities at New Year by Arab and North African men that led to hundreds of police complaints in the following weeks.
It was the first instance of the phenomenon has reached Europe, and as the scale of the attacks in the city slowly emerged, other centres, such as Zurich and Salzburg, reported similar crimes. A report from the Interior Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state, where Cologne lies, said 516 criminal complaints had been registered, 237 of which were sexual.
A separate report from the Cologne police gave graphic descriptions of the crimes, listing case after case of women surrounded by gangs of men who put their hands in the victims’ pants and skirts, grabbed them between the legs, on the buttocks and the breasts, often while stealing their wallets and cell phones. A total of 19 suspects have been identified, all foreigners.
Now, it is also a subject of tension in far-east India. ‘Why we need to worry about ‘Taharrush gamea’ – the Arabic gang-rape game.
As per the police reports, following that 516 criminal complaints had been registered out of which 237 were sexual. Cologne Police, in a separate report, also presented the graphical descriptions of the crime. It listed the pictures of men grabbing women between the legs, on the breasts, buttocks, and men having inside women’s pants and skirts.
‘Goblin Market’ by Christina Rossetti (1839-94), is probably the most famous poem which has resemblances with ‘taharrush.’ It is a long narrative poem in which molestation of Laura by strange looking creatures is one of the important themes. The fruits in the poem which goblins sell have been described as the eroticised powers of the exotic fruits as symbols of sexual temptation, with Laura as the victim who was molested by masculine wiles and raped. This draws parallels between Laura’s molestation by the wiles creatures and the experience of ‘taharrush gamea’.
In Islamic nations, molestation of women is a real socio-religious problem. Some commentators note that Laura and Lizzie live alone, with no parents or guardians – a rather eccentric set-up for two young Victorian sisters. Partly for this reason, and partly for the bad social conditions, the male-female relationship is described as ‘forbidden,’ the poem prefers female homosexuality safer in ‘Goblin Market.’
The narrator of the poem tells that Lizzie thought their dead friend Jeanie ‘should have been a bride’ so that could be protected in the game of ‘taharrush gamea.’ Laura and Lizzie remained unmarried until the end of the poem, years later they got married when they are noticeably older. Same problems were faced by the poet Christina Rossetti herself, although she was courted by numerous suitors, never married.
The ‘market’ of ‘Goblin Market’ the Victorian marriage market and the goblins the ugly and rapacious suitors who lecherously use their wealth to attract a young wife can be compared with the ‘taharrush gamea’ and the lawless molesters who lecherously use their religion to molest young girls. Marriage in the Victorian era, as it has been today in Islamic nations, is often a financial and sexual arrangement and nothing to do with love and romance, and represented the only chance of financial and sexual stability and security for most of women.
The juicy and unusual fruit the goblins offer for sale representation of all that is wrong with Islamic practices of ‘taharrush.’ Then there are the elements of sexual violence in the poem which can be compared with the game of ‘taharrush.’ In the poem, they are offered symbolically but in ‘taharrush’ they are molested really, but which, upon close analysis of key passages become rather clear. Look at the way the (male) goblins treat Lizzie:
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her,
Claw’d with their nails,
Barking, meowing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.
(Goblin Market)
This emblematic gang-rape – forcing Lizzie, whose ‘stocking’ has been ‘soil’d’, to ‘open lip from lip’ against her will (lips being sexually evocative, of course, of other female body parts) – exposes vile sexual violence in the poem which reminds the readers of Lala Logan, the reporter for the American network CBS who was sexually molested by the mob of Muslim men at Tahrir Square, Egypt.
In this analysis, it has tried to condense a new critical debate – and new interpretations – of ‘Goblin Market’ into one short article. Ultimately there cannot be ‘one’ analysis of ‘Goblin Market’: the poem is too richly various for that, too elusive, its use of fantastical imagery and symbolism not meant to be reduced to simplistic allegory or social commentary. ‘Goblin Market’ will always prompt endless debates.
‘In ‘Goblin Market’, Christina Rossetti experiments with language, form and imagery to create a world of temptation and mystery.’
(An introduction to ‘Goblin Market’, Dinah Roe, Published: 15 May 2014)
Set in a world of myth, and discovering themes of temptation, sacrifice and salvation, ‘Goblin Market’ takes us to the fraught encounter between sisters Laura and Lizzie and evil goblin merchants just like Lala Logan at Tahrir Square. Goblins attack Lizzie violently when she tried to be friendly in a hope to be an antidote to Laura’s melody. According to John Ruskin, many identities are the greatest strength of ‘Goblin Market.’ Rossetti creates a disorienting fairytale atmosphere that is simultaneously seductive and alienating. The incantatory replication of ‘berries’ and a seductive sibilance hints at the fruits’ dark properties can be compared to the scenes of ‘taharrush’.
Rossetti wrote ‘Goblin Market’ in 1859 while working at the St Mary Magdalene Penitentiary for ‘fallen women’ in Highgate. It was mainly for the reforms and rehabilitation of prostitutes and victims of rapes. She might have come to know from those victims about the ‘taharrush gamea’ types games as she came to know about the themes of temptation, sexual exchange and sisterly redemption in this the poem which is directed influenced by its poet’s knowledge working as an ‘Associate Sister’ at Highgate.
Initially, this poem was written as a warning to women about the dangers of temptations and rapes. In the 20th century, the open opened the floodgates for Feminists, Lesbian empowerment Theories, Incestuous yearnings, Marxists, Queer Theory, and Freudian which gave a clear warning about the safety of women in this new world system. The poem continues to attract critical interpretations as diverse as the goblin merchants’ wares, challenging Christina Rossetti’s surely disingenuous claim that she ‘did not mean anything profound by this fairytale’.

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