Sexual Harassment of Women in Egypt

Sent On: 
Thu, 2017-11-02
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Cairo was voted “the most dangerous megacity for women 2017” according to a poll by the Thompson Reuters Foundation. Sexual harassment of women is notoriously rampant in Egyptian public spaces and endemic throughout Egyptian society, with millions of Egyptian women facing the situation on a regular basis. In this article, we take a look at how epidemic sexual harassment of women is in Egypt, as well as the driving factors behind it.


Most male harassers claim there is a relation to the attire. This perception stands in line with a long tradition of victim blaming in Egypt. According to this narrative, sexual harassment is not the fault of the aggressor, but the victim. The fact of the matter is, sexual harassment has little to do with women’s attire, but is the product of a number of competing social, political, and economic forces that have given rise to the systemic phenomenon.


NGOs, however, have worked to raise awareness on the rampant situation, and these efforts led the Egyptian government to implement a change in their policies. Since 2014, sexual harassment has been criminalized by law, in theory, regardless of the women’s attire. Sometimes, perpetrators even get prosecuted.


Source: Aswat Masriya


But it is not only sexual harassment that undermines women’s safety in Egypt: According to a UN Population Fund report, Egypt is one of the countries with the highest difference between genders, and practices of violence against women are widely prevalent and normalized throughout Egyptian society. These include domestic violence and female genital mutilation/cutting.


Many people speculate that sexual harassment is exclusively a problem of individuals growing up on the streets, or without proper parental guidance. In fact, as our article argues, sexual harassment is part of a fundamental misunderstanding of women’s role in society and their right to access public domains safely and equitably.


That is not to say that women considering an internship with our Center should be deterred from applying. In fact, Egypt hosts a vast number of productive and inspiring women, foreign and local alike, who are able to navigate the precarious security situation and still make the best out of what the country has to offer. By acquainting oneself with cultural nuances and familiarizing oneself with helpful individuals and agencies in the case of a security emergency (as one would do in when navigating any foreign country), women should find no issue visiting, working, and traveling throughout Egypt. For any additional questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Center for additional clarification.


Read the full article here.


Cairo, 5 November 2017


By Jasper A. Kiepe and Salma Khamis


This article is the first part of a series of three: In the first part, we provide an overview of the situation in Egypt, in the second part we examine the legal framework, and in the final part, both victims and experts on the issue will comment on the situation.