Woman’s ‘Revealing Top’ Was Reason For Sexual Harassment, Hostel Owner Says

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A woman who was sexually harassed by a staff member at a hostel in Paris was blamed by the owner for the attack because she was ‘dressed provocatively’.

Mariah Nonnemacher shared an email she received from the owner of the Enjoy Hostel in the French capital which looked to lay blame on her for having a ‘plunging neckline’.

Originally from a ‘super small town’ in the US, Mariah now lives in London. She arranged a trip to Paris to see her friend from back home who’d moved there to study.

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During the three-day trip, Mariah said she was harassed by a member of staff.

She told UNILAD:

We were downstairs drinking in the bar, and this staff member was there staring at me for a good two hours – not saying anything.

I was a bit weirded out, but there’s no crime there, so I moved on from it.

The next morning, one of Mariah’s room mates at the hostel asked her if she wanted to go down for breakfast with her, so they went down together.

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Mariah told UNILAD:

The same guy was there serving drinks and stuff and then thats when harassment started.

He was asking us questions, where we were from, do we have boyfriends – and we said ‘yes’.

And then he said ‘oh I don’t believe you, I want your number’. The girl I was with said she didn’t want to give it him and you could see he was getting agitated with us.

Then he took the drinks we had on our table and poured them in the sink said ‘go and get your own drinks’.

At this point, I was letting it go, moving on. I’m pretty strong minded, but I pick and choose my battles and I didn’t see the point here. We finished, and off we went.

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It was as she was going down from the room to check out, the worst happened. Mariah was confronted with the same staff member on the stairs.

She told UNILAD:

I was bringing my bags down the tiny staircase, it was narrow, a spiral staircase. As I was coming down, he came up and tried to grab my bags.

I said I didn’t need any help but he didn’t move out of the way and I was like ‘excuse me’ and he came in really close, I stepped back and he was grinning at me and pointing at my chest, but never said anything.

He carried on, then he mumbled something under his breath. At this point I’d had enough and I said ‘what is it?’, and he stopped smiling. He said: ‘Uou need to pull up your shirt, you’re showing too much cleavage’.

He was just trying to get at me, not that I should justify it, what I was wearing was in no way provocative, it was a low v t-shirt and I don’t have much to show to begin with, but I also had my boyfriend’s baggy top on and jeans. He wouldn’t let me go and kept saying ‘no pull it up’.

This was what Mariah was wearing:

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Mariah said she finally managed to get past him but he kept talking about it in front of other guests.

She made her way out to a nearby cafe because she ‘couldn’t stand being there any longer’ and drafted a message to the owner.

Mariah received a message from the owner:

Hello Mariah. After investigation I am really sorry to tell you that (alleged by the manager and another client here) it turns out that you were dressed provocatively with a plunging neckline. This is a mistake because when travelling and frequenting a hotel where there are many, many men, it is more prudent, to avoid any harassment to dress as well. I hope you understand it. Now, there is also a mistake of my staff.

Mr Alex did not have a proper attitude and should have spoken to you out of the way and with respect, to inform you. For that, I really apologise for his attitude, he was blamed. He apologises, he informs me that he wanted to warn you and prevent any problem.

Anyway, please be sure that all people working here are fair, and respectful. We work everyday to inform young travellers to be [careful] when [they’re] in Paris about plenty of risks (rape, robbery, etc..)

I hope you receive my explanation with an open mind and that you will think about all that. [sic]

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Mariah said the response wasn’t good enough and felt unsupported by the owner who she feels should have.

She told UNILAD:

I’m not happy, it’s unacceptable – it’s not just the staff member’s words now, it’s the owner’s as well. I’m a grown woman, I can wear what I want, where I want. It’s irrelevant.

There are tonnes of women out there who would be embarrassed in that situation, frightened, and that’s not ok.

What if one day, that staff member thinks ‘I got away from this, and I got away with that, what else can I do?’

If that’s the attitude of the hotel, then I want other people, other women, to know.

It is not the staff’s job to advise guests what they wear. For the owner to tell how to wear my clothing, that to me, well, it speaks volumes.

I have had my share of sexism, but this to me is the most shocking thing that’s ever happened to me.

This was Mariah’s reply:

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UNILAD approached Enjoy Hostel for a statement and received the following response:

We have just launched a warning to that customer. To prevent her about Paris. Especially what’s happening on streets or metro. That’s all.

She has misunderstood our explanation. We have sent few mails of apologise and to regret if it was not well understood.

We are a fair and respectful team here. We don’t have historic of any sexual harassement or agression here. [sic]

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If you’ve been affected by sexual harassment, contact End The Fear by calling 0207 251 8887 on Tuesdays between 11am to 1pm and Thursdays between 2pm and 4pm.

For licensing contact [email protected], and if you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]