Despite the fact that I no longer live there, I follow the news in Philadelphia. I was very interested in this item that popped up today. Trigger warning (pregnancy, mention of abuse, harassment)
Let me start off by saying this: I'm not an expert. I haven't been pregnant. I haven't (aside from that one time on South Street when someone grabbed my ass) experienced unwelcome touching from strangers. I in no way want to pretend that I am a voice for pregnant women.
Essentially, it's now a law in Pennsylvania that pregnant women have the right not to be touched by strangers. Those who touch a pregnant woman's stomach without permission can be charged with harassment. Unfortunately the linked video does not include any direct commentary from women who have experienced unwelcome touching/groping by strangers, but a social worker highlighted several of the many reasons why a pregnant woman might hate someone touching her body without permission. Specifically, she said that a woman who has experienced abuse might be triggered by the touch of strangers.
First, I felt shocked that pregnant women weren't *already* protected against this. Next, I thought, this law is a good step! Even women who have not suffered abuse can resent this sort of touch. I've heard a lot of excuses for those who touch pregnant women without permission—that it's just human nature, that they are just expressing innate joy and concern for new life, etc. However, if you are really that overwhelmed with that aspect of human nature and want to touch a pregnant woman's belly, isn't it pretty simple to ask permission? It's not something I've ever had a burgeoning desire to do, so I suppose it's difficult for me to understand.
Finally, I felt all sorts of indignation. I guess what I'm getting at is this: if it would be considered weird/harassing to touch a random man's stomach without permission, then it should be equally as weird to touch a woman's stomach regardless of pregnancy. I'm not sure how to get this thought out, but it makes me think that pregnant women are treated as public property—everyone has a right to comment upon and touch them.
Has anyone experienced this? As I haven't been pregnant I can't speak to it. If you've been pregnant, did you welcome or dislike random strangers touching you? Was it something that happened regularly? How did you handle it?