Sexual harassment is a common occurrence here in Egypt whether it’s verbal or physical harassment. As sad as it may seem I was never affected by this problem until it happened to me a couple of months ago. I was walking one afternoon with my mother and young sister on Baghdad Street we were window shopping and having fun, but suddenly out of the blue a guy passing by with a bicycle touched me in an inappropriate way. At first I was too shocked to do anything and by the time I started to yell it was too late the guys had disappeared down the street.When that happened to me I began to pay more attention to the situation in Egypt because sexual harassment in Egypt is increasing at a alarming rate and it needs to be stopped. It not only happened to me but it also happened to some of my friends and relatives, the streets of Cairo are unsafe for woman no matter how early or late the time is there is always a possibility of sexual harassment.
There are many reasons for sexual harassment and its effects on women are catastrophic women are afraid to walk on the streets for fear of harassment, it also have a major effect on the society and it affects how we Egyptian are viewed to the world.One of the main reasons that sexual harassment happens is because the harasser can get away with it and that affects women and our society. In Egypt there is no punishment for sexual harassment people could do it and get away with it (Reem Leila). This has many effects to it, first when harassers realize that they could harass and get away with it there is nothing stopping them from doing it again and that makes the women more afraid of walking on the streets in Egypt and if they did walk on the streets they wouldn’t feel safe always looking behind their backs always expecting to be harassed.Moreover it also affect the society for example the incident that happened in down town Cairo that groups of men started to aggressively attack women in front of a movie theater( El Khashab). The shop keepers who tried to help the victims were hit by the attackers (EL Khashab) and that made most of them afraid to help the women which led to more harassment and women screaming on the streets and that led to the anger of society as a hole against the government because not only women are being harassed but men were hit for trying to help they blame the government for not putting policemen on the streets on such a busy day and for allowing the arassers to get away with what they did. Sexual harassment not only affects the victims but it also affects the society.
As sexual harassment here in Egypt began to increase people started to blame the victims saying that they brought it upon themselves and that it was there faults for making men harass them (Abdelhadi). People say that because of the way women dress they are harassed which is unfair because when the ECWR (Egyptian Center of Women’s Rights) conducted a study on this they found out that veiled women are more often harassed then women with no veil (Fayed).When women are blamed for this they will not be able to report on harassment and they will start to blame themselves for causing the harassment to happen and start to believe what the people are saying. Then women will be too ashamed of being physically harassed that they won’t even mention it to anyone even their families which is unfair and morally wrong to accuse them in the first place.This will also lead to women being afraid on the streets for when they hear that they are blamed for the harassment they will want to go out less and always want to stay at home they will be afraid to go to their work and that is really sad because women deserve to be free and not live in fear in Egypt. Police stations disregard sexual harassment saying that it’s not their problem that women are harassed (Fayed) and that makes the society angry because it’s the police job to take care of the women and they are not doing anything to stop sexual harassment from happening.Not only is sexual harassment ruining our society, but also tourism is affected too.
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According to ECWR 82% of foreigners are sexually harassed here in Egypt foreign embassies in Egypt have been receiving many complaints against the harassment in the streets. They are very worried about the safety of their female nationals (Reem Leila) ,and now foreigners here in Egypt are advised by their embassies to be very cautious when they are on the street and try as hard as they could not to be alone (Reem Leila). This has many effects on Egypt because it not only tarnishes the view of Egypt and the Egyptians it also makes tourism happen less and less.In Egypt we depend on the tourism income, and because of sexual harassment either verbal or physical tourism began to decrease. Tourists are advised not to come to Egypt and if they did they should expect to be sexually harassed. When tourism starts to decrease some of the people whose job depends on tourists will be out of business and then they will become poor and poverty rate will increase in Egypt. It also affects us Egyptians as we are viewed through their eyes they will think that all Egyptian men are harassers and there are no good people in our society which is sad because nit all men are like that.
There are lots of thing that needs to be done to prevent sexual harassment from happening. There should be police officers in crowded areas to prevent the repletion of the down town incident. Women should have the right to report about sexual harassment and not be laughed at, and there should be new laws that punish harassers so that they cannot get away with it every time. People should stop blaming the women for being sexually harassed and try to think of solutions to prevent it and not making the women feel ashamed.
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