Saturday, 25 June 2011

End Sexual Harassment #EndSH

Nazra for Feminist Studies' session last Tuesday in collaboration with HarassMap on sexual harassment and gender violence, which had started off as a blogger and tweeting event the day before encouraging people to post their thoughts and experiences, underlined one of the issues facing women in Egypt today,  the fear of harassment. 

A woman from the working class segment once told me, veiling invites respect and is likely to ward off transgression. She put the onus of responsibility against harassment on women. 

But I think the onus for change, should be put on society as a whole. Women should feel free to walk the streets.

During Tuesday's session some women talked about the need for women to act less passively. There was talk of the need to respond back verbally or physically. One woman felt violence leading to violence was not a solution.

It's a complex matter, but a first step is an acknowledgement of the issue through discussions like the one hosted by Nazra.

Some people feel the blogosphere has narrow reach. According to a stat that I found on the internet, 21% of Egypt's population is on the internet. This might seem like limited reach, but it's a start and I observed that a number of TV channels were at Tuesday's event, therefore helping raise awareness. 

Blogging in English might seem limited, but I think collectively these individual conversations can lead to a raising of consciousness.

Some people claim now is not the time to raise this issue as the country faces more pertinent challenges. But as one woman said, we didn't change society in 18 days and now is the time to rebuild Egyptian society with better values. She said, the personal is politics and society doesn't improve through laws and political parties alone.

A blogger wrote: "Blogging and tweeting about it is a start but more importantly it should be discussed offline too. With the neighbours, shop-owners, taxi-drivers and the random person you chat with in the street.  Convincing 1 person every day and things will change. Start today." 

I'd also hope to see the day where schools, places of work and worship would embrace the concept of no harassment to help raise awareness on a wider scale.

If this becomes part of the national dialogue, it will help build a society where harassment is no longer accepted as a normalised part of life.


  1. Thanks Yasmin. This is a great post. I appreciate you commenting on my blog. I will put you on my blog roll.

    Yours, Warigia

  2. Hi Yasmin. I have added this blog to my blogroll. Thanks so much.


  3. Hi Warigia,

    Thank you for adding me.

    Kind wishes