Egyptian women organise 'Catch a Harasser' to demand respect during Eid

Ahram online, Thursday 25 Oct 2012

Women and men members of "Catch a Harasser" movement and Egyptian Democratic Institute protest in Damanhour city against sexual harassment of women, as Eid approaches

Silent stand in Damanhour to protest sexual harassment during Eid
Two women holding banners against sexual harassment in Damanhour (Photo: Ahram Arabic News website)

About 25 members of the "Catch a Harasser" movement and members of the Egyptian Democratic Institute in Baharia held a silent stand on Wednesday in the nothern Delta city of Damanhour to fight the exacerbation of sexual harassment of women during the upcoming Eid.

Contributors, women and men, carried signs declaring slogans such as "no to harassment" and "catch a harasser for a harassment-free Eid."

During the event, which lasted about an hour, participants also distributed a statement to drivers and passers-by, "Do as you please; you reap what you sow."

The statement addressed those who sexually harass women saying, "I'm your sister, your mother, your wife, your daughter. Do you stand for my humiliation and the loss of my dignity?"

"If you dislike my clothes or my walk, is that an excuse to molest me? If that was so, why do you still harass me when I'm veiled or fully veiled? All the aforementioned are just justifications you use to explain your shameful actions. I would like to walk freely and safely. I want your respect. No to harassment. No excuse for harassment. Harassment is a disease. You reap what you sow." 

The event impressed many citizens, who lauded the organisers.

During the recent years, sexual harassment of women has been steadily increasing in the Egyptian streets. This increase usually reaches a climax during the Eid, were crowds makes it easier for culprits to go unpunished.

According to a survey issued in 2008 by the Egyptian Centre for Women Rights, 83 per cent of women in Egypt and 98 per cent of foreign women have been exposed to sexual harassment at least once.

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil stated on 21 October using his official Facebook page that his cabinet, along with the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the National Council for Women, are working on finding ways to wipe out sexual harassment in Egypt. 

Qandil revealed in the statement that a law is currently being drafted to combat harassment on the streets through imposing harsh penalties, adding that they are "dealing with sexual harassment as a disastrous phenomenon." 

This statement came after the National Women Council started a national campaign, "Patrols Against Sexual Harassment," in August 2012 to combat sexual harassment in Cairo, specifically during Eid. This decision is to fight the wide-spread harassment.

The council also addressed the Ministry of Endowments and the Coptic Church to include this subject in Friday prayer sermons and Sunday church services, especially before the Eid El-Adha. 

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