‘They made monkey noises’ - Girl abused in street for wearing gas mask

Salima Boussabourne, 15, was apparently bullied for wearing a mask amid the coronavirus epidemic. Pi

Salima Boussabourne, 15, was apparently bullied for wearing a mask amid the coronavirus epidemic. Picture: Supplied by the family - Credit: Archant

The mother of a 15-year-old girl who has an anxiety disorder has pleaded with people to be more considerate after her daughter was hassled for wearing a gas mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Esme Gubbins, 56, with her daughter, Salima, 15. Eddy. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Esme Gubbins, 56, with her daughter, Salima, 15. Eddy. Picture: STUART ANDERSON - Credit: Archant

Salima Boussabourne, from Cromer, was wearing the mask when she was taking her daily walk for exercise around the town.

But Esme Gubbins, her mother, said she was left in tears after people made fun of her on the street.

Miss Gubbins said: “My daughter suffers from severe anxiety disorder and this makes it very hard for her to go out.

“She did all the research to find out what the best masks are. She wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing.


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“She has a mask from Screwfix that ensures a good seal around the bridge of the nose. When she returned home yesterday she said youths travelling along Runton Road wound the car window down and made monkey noises at her.”

Miss Gubbins said the episode had made Salima reluctant to go out again.

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She said: “It is also the second time that it has happened to her. The first time a bloke came out of Morrisons petrol station, laughed, said ‘look at that!’ and, horror, took a picture.”

Miss Gubbins called for people to be more understanding, as everyone was trying to make it through the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus in their own individual way.

She said: “Certain people have underlying health conditions and cannot afford to be stricken with this virus. In fact, underlying conditions or not, nobody can.”

People wearing face masks has become a common sight in supermarkets and on footpaths as the coronavirus continues to spread.

However, opinions are split on how effective they are in suppressing the virus.

The wearing of face masks is mandatory in some places including Lombardy, the worst-hit part of Italy, and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has also recommended people wear face coverings when they go out.

But the UK government has not recommended their widespread use, and the World Health Organization only recommends them for people sneezing or coughing, and those caring for others suspected to have Covid-19.

Miss Gubbins said they had not reported the alleged incidents to the police.

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