Egyptian women apparently can’t win: when dressing, by Western standards, “normally,” they get accused of being, and treated as, prostitutes; dressed in the hijab, Muslim men still harass them. “Egypt voices: Sexual harassment,” interview by Linda Wardani, for BBC, September 3 (thanks to RB):
Seven Egyptian women talk about their experience of sexual harassment on the streets of Cairo. It is an increasingly common problem, with a recent survey suggesting more than four out of five women have been sexually harassed, while nearly two-thirds of men admitted assaulting women.
Interesting correlation: sexual harassment in Egypt is becoming “increasingly common” just as it is also becoming increasingly Islamic.
Once I was out driving with my brother when he stopped at a supermarket and I waited for him outside. Two guys got out of a car and walked towards me in an intimidating way. They started commenting on the way I look and the way I’m dressed.
I usually don’t answer back, but this time I said: ‘I’m not here to get picked up, you know.’ This was too much for one of them who started shouting that I was crazy. I replied that even if I were a prostitute, I wouldn’t give him a second glance.
This made him mad. He came right up to me, shouting that he was a policeman and he would ‘show me’. In no time three more cars pulled up, and a group of men got out and started yelling at me and my brother.[…]
Must be the Ikhwan, play-acting as Virtue-Vice police.
I get harassed 100 times a day. I tried everything to stop it but it doesn’t stop. I wear loose clothes, I don’t wear make up, I spend more than an hour in front of the mirror everyday thinking of ways to hide my body.
I walk home everyday. It only takes me 15 minutes, I cross the bridge. It is usually very loud and busy, but that does not stop men from approaching girls, any girl, good looking or bad looking, covered or not.[…]
I get harassed whenever I walk down the street; even during the seconds I cross the street to take my car.
Yesterday, when I was parking the car in front of my house, a guy grabbed my bottom, I shouted at him, and insulted him. At least I did something about it.
My mother says I shouldn’t answer back, but I think this is wrong.[…]
I get harassed every day, although I am always carrying my baby. I thought being a mother would make me immune to harassment, but it made it even worse.
Once I was waiting for the bus with my child and a car stopped, the guy waved his hand at me with a 20 pound note. It was unbelievable. Another time I was walking home and this guy unzipped his trousers in a car next to me.
I screamed, but he shouted back very aggressively, saying ‘Who do you think you are? Why would I even look at you?’ People in the street gathered around us and to my surprise they were not sympathetic with me. They supported him. They all defended the guy because they do the same thing.[…]
I stopped wearing skirts, and stopped doing my hair at the hairdresser’s, I also stopped wearing make up, even my fiance asks me why aren’t you taking care of your looks as you used to do.
But what can I do, I try to stop it but nothing works. I used to always have a smile on my face while walking down the streets, now I am always frowning, always provoked, always feeling the threat of someone approaching me physically or verbally.
At a bus or a microbus, I always feel there is a hand trying to touch me. It happened so many times, that I keep looking at the seat behind me as if I am crazy.