And I faced him. Every time I remember that moment I get a cold shiver. The guy’s pants were unzipped (imagine the view!)and he was talking dirty. It was scary and I was alone because I left my cousin behind and she was in shock. The crowded streets of Cairo all of a sudden seemed empty and the only sign of help was a speeding car that stopped a 100 meters from where we were. And I started yelling at him. He didn’t move at 1st but when I took a step towards him yelling he started running from me so I started running after him yelling and cursing till he disappeared.
My cousin suggested that we should not tell our parents about that incident because they might get worried. I agreed because it wasn’t the 1st time for me to get harassed in the safe streets of Cairo yet it was the 1st time to be that scary. Usually sexual harassment in the streets of Cairo will take the form of dirty talks. A typical scenario will be a woman minding her own business in the street and a man suddenly getting close to her whispering something dirty, really dirty. But recently things started taking different forms.
I remember that I came back to blog about that incident and the only thing that I had in mind was, what if I was alone. The fact that my cousin was in the background gave me an advantage. Though she was yellow and barely breathing yet for the harasser she was another set of hands and legs that could at any time start kicking his ass. Or even noisy vocal cords that could start screaming at anytime. She was an advantage. She wasn’t covering my back but I wasn’t alone. But what were my chances winning in that situation if I was really alone? What if the speeding car I thought help wasn’t really help and the guy in the car didn’t really notice that I was in trouble or better noticed and was just watching out of curiosity. What if the harasser used his physical strength? What if he wasn’t one? Would I have had the chance to get back home safe?
I got over that incident and almost forgot it till yesterday when I found her blogging about a similar incident. She was harassed by a group of teenagers. And she called the police. A police officer came to the rescue and one of the guys harassed her was caught. She filed a report and things seemed like justice will finally prevail.
Now, people are pressuring her to withdraw her charges against the boy. They are twisting facts to put her in the frame of a criminal and making a victim out of him just because he is 19. They are using twisted words like you are taking his right for a future. I read comments on her blog asking her to not make a criminal out of the boy. There are actually people who are asking her to give that guy a chance to go harass more women. They are asking her to give a card blanche to such males to think of women as sex toys.
There are even people talking about that she deserved it because she isn’t veiled.
I am veiled. I don’t wear make up. I don’t wear high heals. I walk like a soldier. I wear a frown to the street and I still got harassed. I didn’t report it because I was never taught to report it. I am someone who is familiar with law. So, I know that there is a law to put these harassers in jail and yet I never reported it because I was always scared that people will accuse me of being the bad one. I was always scared because I know that in such incidents it is my word against his. And reporting such incidents means a scandal. So, I’d rather keep to myself and pretend nothing ever happened.
I keep it to myself because everyone believes I am a sex toy. And I will be accused of arousing the dead manhood of any given male just because I happen to be a female. So, in any harassing situation it will always be my fault.
It is always my fault because I was born Egyptian, in a community with a serious identity problem. It is my fault because I am a woman and a genius spread the word the women are just sex toys!
I don’t know what I would have done if I were her. It is a really hard choice. It would have been easier if there was a law to ensure the criminal will go to trial whether the victim continued with her charges or not. It would have been easier if the law didn’t make it personal between the harasser and the victim. It would have been easier if the guy’s family didn’t play the future card. It would have been easier if they didn’t try to play on the mother inside her. It would have been easier if the smart asses claiming that the veil is the answer for all problems would have kept their opinions to themselves. It would have been easier if we lived in a community where women aren’t viewed prostitutes by default. (Though even a prostitute has the right to walk safe in the streets)
It would have been easier to decide if she wasn’t deciding for every female.
What would you have done if you were in her shoes?
I pray for her to have the courage to decide. I pray for her to have the peace of mind amidst the pressures around her. I pray for her to get through this tough time. I pray for justice to prevail.
Because without justice savages will possess the world!
You can find her post here http://amyasser.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-post.html