Egyptians campaign for a sexual-harassment-free Eid

Ahram Online, Sunday 19 Aug 2012

A group of youth volunteers try to protect women from widespread sexual harassment during Eid El-Fitr celebrations

A campaign will kick off on the first day of Eid El-Fitr against sexual harassment in metro stations (Photo: Randa Ali)

A Facebook event entitled "Patrols Against Sexual Harassment" was launched in the last few days of Ramadan calling on volunteers to sign up for a number of popular committees aimed at protecting women from sexual harassment in Metro stations during Eid El-Fitr.

The Islamic holiday has witnessed a number of violent sexual attacks on women in recent years.

The campaign was initiated in collaboration with the Metro police and company, focusing on stations that witness heavy gatherings during the day, such as Sadat, Ataba and Shuhadaa Metro stations, in addition to Talat Harb Square in downtown Cairo.

The plan was to reach a minimum number of 50 volunteers, with at least four on each platform of respective the Metro stations, urging members to quietly take any harasser to the Metro's security officers.

"Eid came to be a season for harassment. We've witnessed vicious harassment incidents in past holidays and for that we decided that this one has to be different," said Sherein El-Badr, one of the campaign's volunteers.

El-Badr added that some volunteers will try to be present inside a number of carriages as well.

Sexual harassment has been dramatically on the rise in Egypt. It peaks during public holidays.

2006 marked the most horrific incident of harassment when several girls were brutally harassed and stripped off their clothes by a mob during Eid El-Fitr celebrations in downtown Cairo. The event played a major role in bringing the issue of harassment in Egypt to light.

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.

Tthe initiative will kick off at 4pm in Sadat station on the platform that heads to Shubra,  Abdel-Fattah Mahmoud, another campaign member confirmed.

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