Sexual Harassment in Egypt

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Sexual harassment

Everyday the Egyptian streets are becoming more and more hostile to women this is due to the exacerbating problem of sexual harassment. This despicable trend is somehow new to the Egyptian society as before the 80’s when Egypt was more secular sexual harassment wasn’t noticed in the streets. However, starting from the 80’s many religious movements started to appear in Egypt and women were becoming more conservative but surprisingly harassment began to appear. The vicinity of this problem is increasing rapidly; thus, it would be insurmountable to eliminate, if firm actions are not taken immediately. This problem increased to the extent that some statistical reports states that 83% of Egyptian women faced sexual harassment and 98% of foreign women visiting Egypt. Moreover, the British office of Foreign affairs issued a report that Egypt is one of the countries with highest number of reported cases of sexual harassments against British citizens; therefore, it has asked its citizens to be extra caution in Egyptian streets (Abdelhadi). In order to reduce this tendency/this trend, many Egyptian scholars and feminist groups researched the causes of its appearance/development/increase. Many causes were identified: some of them may be key contributors to sexual harassments; others are fake reasons that some groups created to delude people into doing things which I will analyze in this paper.

To begin with, what is sexual harassment and how to identify it? Before discussing the causes of sexual harassment, it should be comprehensively defined with its various types and forms. According to the law of civil rights of 1964 of the United States, sexual harassment is “any unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment”. From this definition we could conclude there are two types of sexual harassment: on work sexual harassment and off work sexual harassment. On work sexual harassment is the one that takes place in the working environment and usually from a supervisor or a boss and even sometimes from peers. It could occur due to either refusing the presence of women in the work or as pressure to ask for sexual favors. A reason for refusing the presence of women in work is due to the fact that some religious views consider that women shouldn’t deal with men and shouldn’t work. I, also, interviewed a graduate friend who is working in a marketing firm. She told me that sometimes she faces harassment inflicted by customers. Moreover, she also explained that some people think working women are in need for money so they try to take advantage of this. The other type of harassment is the off work sexual harassment. It could be in the form of wolf whistling, unwelcomed body touching, verbal harassment or even rape. It takes place in the streets and it occurs due to various reasons that will be discussed later. The high unemployment rate

One of the causes of sexual harassment is the high unemployment rate and low incomes. The Egyptian economy has been in a recession during the last few years. The rate of unemployment reached a peak of 16% in 1998 and it reached 8.4% in 2009 (CIA World Factbook). This high rate of unemployment adds a negative pressure on men especially in a patriarchal society like the Egyptian one as here in Egypt men are the ones supposed to cover household expenses and marriage expenses. Thus according to some scholars this pressure cause men to show their anger on women in the streets as many of them believe that women took the vacancies in the jobs and they are unemployed because of working women (Stack). However unemployment isn’t the main reason as only about 8% of Egyptian men are unemployed while on the other...
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