Egypt’s Women Rebel Against Harassment

Tahrir Square, the cradle of Egypt's revoltution, has become also a place for harassment of women. Credit: Khaled Moussa al-Omrani/IPS.

Due to the plague of sexual harassment, which the Egyptian authorities have appeared unwilling to address hitherto, Egyptian women have been taking matters into their own hands by organising anti-sexual harassment campaigns. And their efforts are being supported by the growing number of young Egyptian men who have formed anti-harassment squads.

On Sunday Egyptian police and the minister of the interior reported arresting 172 men on charges of sexual harassment and assault during the first two days of Eid Al Adha, one of Islam’s holiest holidays which began on Friday.
While sexual harassment is a daily occurrence in Egypt during holidays there is a sharp increase in the assaults.

Activists behind an initiative called “I witnessed harassment” reported last week that more than 60 percent of women who were in downtown Cairo on Friday were subjected to sexual harassment.

Sexual intimidation has long been a problem in Egypt. According to a survey issued in 2008 by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 per cent of foreign women had been exposed to sexual harassment at least once.

Conservative Muslim women covering their hair have been targeted as have women dressed in the niqab which covers their entire body, leaving only their eyes visible.

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