Monday, June 20, 2011

Staring, Groping, and Getting Your Ass kicked!

I’m a citizen of Cairo Egypt, a city I've lived in all my life and am very much in love with. I guess being too close to the picture to be able to see it clearly applies here since I've gotten used to so many things that apparently seem to be " only in Cairo", or at least are not as apparent in other cities in Egypt. So we get used to the horrible smog and the sky always being a little grayish than bluish. We get used to the dirtier streets, with plastic bags twirling around in the wind, and the lack of trees. Certainly a Cairene girl like me is also used to the horrible amount of sexual harassments on daily basis, Ranging from rude stares to, well, worse things.

I think things started to go south around 10 years ago, or maybe before that I was too young to know. But what I remember distinctly is that I was NOT afraid to walk down the street after dark then, especially in residential areas where the weirdos stood out on the streets. If I was walking with my brother or my mother then no one would even consider glancing sideways at me. If I were alone, I'd get some of the stares and a couple of comments, but at least it wasn't on daily basis. We learn to ignore these comments and these stares because it would be rude to make scenes, and usually they went away when we ignored them. As a side note, I'm not beautiful, I don't have one of those head turner figures, and my clothes are conservative to a great extent. Bottom line, if there are people that say girls have it coming because of the way they look or dress, I wouldn't qualify. That does not mean in any way that I believe in this justification. Things started to progress after a while, the remarks got more obscene, the harassment started to get more physical and most probably to complain would be an invitation for the harasser to get more obscene and for people to stop and stare. At some point, girls lost hope in having someone standup for them when they get harassed publicly, or to be more precise, we lost hope in the existence of "na5wa" in the Egyptian people. We go around avoiding being groped and letting those animals get away with what they're doing. Walking around after dark was an invitation to get harassed. A while later, even if it weren't dark, cars would stop for girls waiting for buses, crowds were issues, and being in broad daylight on a busy street just didn't save us the trouble. Walking with a man down the street does not keep anyone safe anymore, if the man you are with attempts to address the harasser, there was a strong possibility that he'd get stabbed. Not to mention, the idea of ever asking a policeman for help was out of the question since he would most probably start harassing himself, assuming that he wasn't the one who started it.
We got used to it and bore up with it and life goes on, I mean it’s better to hear a word or avoid being touched than have it topped with a scene and listening to words that would most probably hurt more than a wound ever would. One day, the first day of the feast, there were several mass sexual harassment incidents, and the people got really scared. After how that was tackled in the media, the government tried to save face by passing a sexual harassment law, and we heard about a couple of cases for people going to jail for a few years, which was a step in the right direction, but since no one obeyed the law in issues such corruption, embezzlement, or even traffic lights, the law didn't make much difference on the street!

But the revolution came, and it wasn’t just about political demands, it was about the people demanding to be human. It was where the man in every Egyptian finally came out, where respect and pride were the highlights of the demands, and where laws would finally be applied. 18 days without a single harassment case, and suddenly there is hope!

I decided that after the revolution, I will NOT ignore that jerk who decides to intercept me, I'd scream and shout and get Everyone's attention. I will get my rights and I will be scared no more, passive no more, harassed no more. I know that most people will continue to stand still and not interfere because this is the status quo, but maybe one day soon most will turn to some, and some will turn to "selected few" and then it will become the exception rather than the rule. Today we talk against sexual harassment in Egypt. Tomorrow we act against sexual harassment in Egypt and the next day we will stop sexual harassment in Egypt.
I choose to be passive about it no more! Next time I get harassed, there will be some serious ass kicking involved!

Did you like this?


  1. i was just talking about that today .. lakn with an older generation women,and they tought that confronting the guy would be so irrespectable ,that it will make u "sharshoo7a","2alelt el2adab" thank God some ppl. still have thier minds working ,as it is sooo hard to do i will try to

  2. The problem is that we, the new generation, are brought up with the old beliefs. only then, things weren't as bad as they are now. it has to stop, and it won't stop unless we do something about it!