Three decades of incitement against women

The Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights did a study on sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment of women in Egypt is on the increase and observing Islamic dress code is no deterrent, according to a survey published this week…ECWR head Nihad Abu El-Qoumsan said that even veiled women who were victims of harassment blamed themselves. Western women who took part in the study demonstrated a strong belief in their entitlement to personal safety and freedom of movement, she says, but this was totally absent among Egyptian respondents. No-one spoke about freedom of choice, freedom of movement or the right to legal protection. No-one showed any awareness that the harasser was a criminal, regardless of what clothes the victim was wearing.

So…’Western’ women believe strongly that they ought to be able to walk around outside without being pestered by men, and Egyptian women don’t believe that. Well I guess I’m one of the first kind then, because I certainly believe I ought to be able to walk around outside with no pestering or opposition or impertinent interruption of any kind. I think I was almost born with that belief. I’m serious – I had a habit of bolting when I was a child. I did it once when I was about three – we lived in the country and one evening I was playing innocently outside among the apple trees and then simply turned that into a long walk up Bedensbrook Road and along the Great Road. I was brought home by a stranger, which must have been exciting for everyone. I did it again when I was about five, we lived in town then and were walking up Mercer Street and I just turned around and rushed off for a more private walk of my own. I’ve been like that ever since. The idea that women are in some way public property, subject to interference from strangers, as soon as they go outside, has always been anathema to me. We’re not children, we’re not broken, we’re not feeble in our intellects, we’re not ill, we’re not weak, we’re not damage, we don’t need help or supervision or attention or moral instruction, and we don’t need men just helping themselves to us. Women of Egypt: tell them all to piss off.

After Noha’s story was published in the Badeel daily, editor-in-chief Muhammad El Sayyed Said wrote that the behaviour of the crowd was characteristic of oppressed societies, where the majority identified with the oppressor. He blamed the increase in sexual harassment on what he said were “three decades of incitement against women” from the pulpits of some of Egypt’s mosques. “This verbal incitement is based on the extremely sordid and impudent allegation that our women are not modestly dressed. This was, and still is, a flagrant lie, used to justify violence against women in the name of religion.”

Women of Egypt: push back.

7 Responses to “Three decades of incitement against women”