"’If the girls were dressed respectably, no-one would touch them," one [boy] said. "It's the way girls dress that makes guys come on to them. The girls came wanting it - even women in niqab.’ One of his friends told me the boys were not to blame, and that there was a difference between women who wore loose niqabs and tight ones.’ ‘A woman who wore a tight niqab was up for it,’ he added.”
I knew niqabis got harassed equally, if not more than ordinary dressed women, but I just could not believe the logic these boys used. Did the boys not consider the fact that perhaps the woman wearing a “tight” niqab may have gained weight or are pregnant? Regardless, there is no need to justify a woman’s appearance; the issue is that women should not be harassed regardless of what they wear!
It really breaks my heart being an expat and hearing my friends abroad second the glory of Egypt’s history to sexual harassment. Why should Egypt have to be known as one of the top harassment capitals of the world?
Another article published this past week talks about males hoping to harass girls after wrapping up classes for the day at their local schools. Until now, this variation of harassment was new to me.
There is a girl’s elementary school across from my apartment, and I have always seen boys hanging around, apparently I have been very naïve to assume these were the older brothers of the girls at the school.
Here’s a sad statistic from that very piece:
“Last week, the National Council for Women (NCW) said that Egyptian women get harassed 7 times every 200 meters, and a 2008 report by the Egyptian Center for Women Rights found that well over two-thirds of Egyptian women are harassed on daily basis. Even activists who protest the grotesque practice are also harassed, defying logic.”
We know harassment is an issue, so why do we have to keep discussing what it is? Why not focus on what is there to be done?
In a previous article I wrote for Aslan Media entitled, “Fight Harassment 101: Egypt’s Obstacle to Ending Sexual Harassment,” I cited some good ideas on how to combat harassment. But at the end of the day, several things must be done and this all comes down to the will of the Egyptian people. Education truly is the key alongside legislation on the topic of harassment. Families must encourage the girls and women in their families to stand up for themselves and to encourage males that it is not appropriate and should not allow other people to do it.
Women in Egypt, whether they are Egyptians or foreigners, need to stand tall with their heads held high and demand an end to harassment. Men need to have ZERO TOLERANCE when they see somebody harassing a woman, and not dismiss it as if the woman deserved it or that it did not faze them. We can rant all we want about the topic of harassment, but at the end of the day it is up to us to take initiative and lead.By Holly Dagres, Aslan Media Columnist