Sunday September 2, 2018 By: Ingy ِEl Naggar
Sexual harassment is Egypt’s illegitimate child, born out of chaos. The phenomenon that had been around for a while, has escalated drastically in the last 7 years. Our long-lived misconception has constantly wronged the female or, worse, it urged people to look the other way. Thus, sweeping the whole problem under the rug, feeding the harassers’ ego and confidence and turning them into limitless monsters who think it’s not only okay, but it’s also their right to cat call, touch and shame girls on daily basis.
A life example that slapped us in the face is the trending dilemma of the 5th settlement incident. In this incident, a guy, who had been stalking a girl, got out of his car and invited her for coffee, even though the girl was asking him to leave her alone, while videotaping him. Few days after the video went viral, the guy became a meme lord. A heated debate erupted online between people who deemed the guy as a harasser and others who shamed the girl, after stealing her personal photos and posting them on social media. They criticized her choice of clothes and wrote inappropriate comments accusing her of seeking attention. Consequently, the harasser sued the girl for videotaping him while he was harassing her. What’s even more shocking was the news that the browbeater signed a commercial deal. The oppressor has become a social media icon and the victim has turned into the predator for smearing his reputation.
This wasn’t the only, nor the most devastating incident that happened lately. During Eid Al Adha, a man was stabbed on a beach in Alexandria for merely standing up against his wife’s harasser. The harasser stabbed him in broad day light. The gruesome pictures of the husband drowning in his own blood were shocking. But what was more shocking were the comments by some people blaming him for his own death, saying that, “He deserved it for allowing his wife to wear a swim suit and enjoy the beach.” The woman was wearing a burkini.
Such incidents raise many questions; How did we build such misconceptions in the first place? Who made up the rule book of Egypt’s right and wrong? How in the world did the descendants of the pharaohs evolve into such barbarians? We became living jokes who fast, pray and cover up for our social image. Sadly, underprivileged women, and women in rural areas cover up for protection rather than for religious beliefs. On the other hand, many affluent women cover up or down depending on where they are going. They claim they shame women for not following their religion. But what about the rest of the religious obligations? The ones that say we have to stand up for what’s right and help those in need? And most importantly, at the end of the day, what outweighs the other, the social facade or what’s right? If we are all angels, from where do such demonic acts sprout from?
Our tragic reality is one in which a great country that was the first to be ruled by women, like Hatshepsut and Cleopatra is now a country in which women are degraded and humiliated daily on the streets. Harassment has become so deeply rooted that anything less than rape or murder is deemed okay and acceptable. Perhaps the only silver lining out of the latest incidents, is the statement issued by Al Azhar, stating that, “Any kind of harassment is unacceptable regardless of the girl’s choice of clothes or actions.”
Even though I firmly believe that strict penalties must be issued against harassers, I also believe, just as firmly, that we’re all guilty in this. Every male or female who witnessed a girl being harassed on the streets and chose not to interfere is guilty. Every male or female, myself included, who has joked on social media or with friends about any incident like the one in the fifth settlement is guilty. Every male or female that has blamed a woman and advised her to cover up to be safe because “men are men” is guilty. We all contributed some way or another to this heartbreaking picture. We’re all guilty, and if we truly want a better safer Egypt, then we better start repenting, by doing what’s right instead of doing what we have become used to do.
Ingy El Naggar is a 19-year-old dentistry student, with a fierce passion for writing and reading . She dreams of a better Egypt in which everyone is safe and cared for. She aspires to contribute to that, if just by her words .
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