Paint It Black
The criminal crowds are now long gone from the streets of downtown Cairo and we are left with the consequences to deal with. Some women are left with pretty tough physical and psychological consequences that we could never grasp. Harassed by dozens of men right in the street, treated like an object specifically made to satisfy your rapist. Listening to the men's vulgarities and being called the dirtiest of names just because you happen to be there at the time. Some of us will forget this incident, but for me, I know I'll never feel the same again walking the streets with a female friend or family.
I read the comments to my post and two of them I couldn't get out of my head:
Of course, when I read the eyewitness accounts, I was horrified, shocked, angry, nauseous, sad...so many other things.
I have seen people discuss rhetorically, "What can be done," but not any specific calls to action. Okay, I admit, I don't have any grand ideas of my own, witness that I am too stupid to figure out how to log in as a blogger, and had to do it anonymously...
Does anyone know of specific calls to action? A plan for next year? For tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after the day after?
Good point! What is the call to action? I think the problem is not simple. It is not one single factor as is the case with most real issues. And as you can suspect, each factor will not be a superficial one. Forsoothsayer has put it solely on the shoulders of law enforcement who turn a blind eye to these offenses. And if you think about the thousands of plain clothed policemen that stand side by side for hours on the streets and along the 12.5km long 6th Of October bridge when the president has plans to use that route, you'll know she has a point. Couldn't the same organized & disciplined policemen be used to protect our women? However, I feel like this is not the root of the problem. And though I have some ideas of what the problem is, I feel unqualified to diagnose it or claim to do so. I am not a sociologist or a psychologist. And If the causes have to do with education, ethics, freedoms, and sexual suppression then solving this from the roots up will take years and years.
However, that doesn't mean that there is nothing we can do. Forsoothsayer has mentioned Egyptian Center for Women's Rights and some of their work. If you want to help with that, check their site.
I think the best thing we can do is get this out there and let women's voices be heard. Let the stories be heard. I just read a post by Pinky where she said that 'every nation passes through that', 'it is okay' and 'it is no big deal'. Well, Pinky I know I might be taking your words out of context but it's not okay! I am sure your attitude would have been different had one of your friends been a victim. The worst thing we can do is to blatantly deny what happened like the government seems to do when asked about this. The second worst thing is to admit it but say that 'it's ok, it happened to everyone else.'
Update: Pinky has advised that she was referring to the culture of sex being a taboo and not the sexual harassment incident.
The more exposure this issue gets, the more people will think about it, the more brain power we will have, the more solutions on the table, and the more the people that will stand behind solving this dilemma. The truth needs to be exposed, even if ugly as it is now. The infamous Egyptian hypocrisy needs to be exposed. Are they mutually exclusive the crowds that flock the mosques on Friday prayers and the ones that harass women on Eid? Or are they one and the same?
When Egyptian men read about what happens to normal women on the street they will feel ashamed, especially the ones that committed the crimes. That night they were drunk by desire, blinded by animal instincts. If they ponder about it when they're 'sobre' they will feel the shame. And If they have any decency, which I believe they do, they will think twice before bothering any girl on the street the next time around. I hope they connect the dots and figure out that whatever they do to these women, a stranger will to their mothers and sisters.
a girl who has been there said...Girl,
Well, I am not surprised reading this. We all know this has been always happening in Egypt. Don’t tell me you are living in Cairo and you just don’t! Egyptian men are perverts. Horny perverts, that’s what they are. They masturbate in garages, in front of schools, while they are driving theirs cabs, in stores and even in public transportation. Some bully their cousins and sisters to sleep with them and threaten to tell everyone if they utter a word. They harass women while driving they may even reach to get them killed in a car accident they do not give a damn as long as they are having fun! Police even assault women when they stop them claiming to ask for driving license day or night and treat them as whores! Bosses molest women in offices! They do not cease a chance to molest a female in every street in this corrupt piece of Earth called the F**ked up Republic of Egypt. I am telling you this out of me personal experience. I am not paranoid, but I am assuring you that there is NOT ONE woman in Cairo who has not been visually or physically harassed before in her entire life. Ask any of your girlfriends in Cairo yourself! Ask them if they have not been touched by a moron in the street before! I dare any woman who would say I HAVE NOT been abused in the streets in Cairo! I dare any of them to say they have been left alone in this filthy country. Egyptian men just make me want to puke!
In Cairo, women do not try to avoid being just violated, they try to avoid getting raped. I am sorry for this comment, but this is the ugly truth.
The image you paint is quite dark. No it's not just dark, it's thick black with no other color, just black. If you don't mind Girl, I want to take apart what you said. You stated a lot of points and I don't want them grouped together.
The men that abuse their cousins and sisters are truly 'perverts' and sexual deviants and should be treated separately by specialists & psychologists that can analyze these cases. Men that do that, in my opinion, are in a different class than those who committed the public harassments.
I will not contest the visual harassment as every Egyptian knows it's a reality. When a women walks the street, men's eyes travel every inch of her body with no shame and maybe even a smile on their face. As bad as that is, it is not a crime. However, there are incidents that, in my humble opinion, you are overstating:
- masturbation in garages, in front of schools, in cabs, stores, public transportation
- Police assaulting women as they check their licenses
- bosses molesting women in the office
And for the sake of my sanity and their feelings, I will not ask women that I know if they've been touched by strangers or not. What if they say yes? Yep, I will turn a blind eye on that one.
We need your help as a woman. We need you to help us understand how deep the problem goes. We need you to confirm that your comment really paints the correct image and is not exaggerated. How much sexual harassment do you experience in Cairo? Day to day? Once a year? How serious? I invite you Girl, and others, to anonymously blog your experiences (or send it to me and I'll post it). Please do not feel guilty as some victims do. It's not your fault, whatever you were wearing. It can't be your fault. If we are to get the exposure necessary to fight this, then we need you and others to step up and tell us the truth with no veils or make up!