Egypt women ride bikes to defy sexual harassment

Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Saturday 9 Nov 2013

Egyptian women cycle against sexual harassment in the city of Suez on Friday

Egyptian women bike against sexual harassment in Suez on Friday, November 8, 2013 (Photo: Aswat Masriya)

A group that goes by the name “Tomorrow” organized a bicycle demonstration in Egypt’s Suez on Friday evening where tens of girls biked on the Corniche in defiance of sexual harassment.

A number of men also joined the demonstration in solidarity with the female participants to stress that society must let women go about their daily lives without fear.

“The idea is to revolt against this model imposed on Egyptian women by society since the 70’s where everything outside of it is considered a crime that we have to pay for," said Coordinator Marwa Radwan.

She pointed out that sexual harassment and verbal and psychological attacks are the society’s way of punishing women and teaching them to take caution with every move they make.

Radwan added that they decided to organize the demonstration after similar attempts in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said were successful.

The campaign is meant to force passersby to accept women as they go on about their business without fear of attacks or harassment and also to help women regain their confidence.

Radwan added that the campaign wishes to encourage women to exercise as well.

Sexual harassment has been a growing problem in Egypt. More than 99 percent of hundreds of women surveyed in seven of the country's 27 governorates reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment, ranging from minor harassment to rape, according to an April report by the UN, Egypt's Demographic Centre and the National Planning Institute.

There are no explicit anti-sexual harassment provisions under Egyptian law. However, there are three articles in the penal code that are sometimes applied in cases of sexual harassment.

Last April, Egypt's National Council for Women has proposed a new law against sexual harassment where a person convicted under the law would receive a minimum one-year jail term and/or a minimum fine of LE10,000.

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