February 13, 2009

Harassment Again

It has been almost a year on the incident when I was sexually harassed in the safe streets of Cairo. I was out with my cousin when out of no where appeared an old guy, old because I think he is around 50, wearing a suit and looks decent and started showering our ears with dirty sexual comments. And because we was taught that whenever someone starts talking like that in the street the best way is to walk faster and leave him behind, so we did. But the old, seemed to be decent man started running after us. My cousin actually started turning yellow and I was the older supposedly wiser and I made a decision to face the harasser. I suddenly stopped and turned to face him. I had many scenarios that all flashed in my mind in a fraction of a second. Scenarios that ranged from that he will run the moment I turn, or that I will actually has to physically engage in a fight. I started remembering all the defense moves my brother taught me and all the sexual harassers’ psychology HH has been teaching me, all in a fraction of second.

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


Marwa Rakha said...


Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Marwa
Thank you for referring to my post in your article :)

Noly said...

He is the mistaken one and he deserves the punishment. bgd baladna ba2a feha hagat kter te2rf!
3rfa ya Shi walahy el 3azem ana ba2et ta2reban bakhaf amshy fel share33shan el 7agat el ghareba dy w in case I have to, I take with me my little bro m3a eno still 11 sana bas aho 7ad m3aya w khlas.

I'm really wondering, we are supposed to feel safe in our country as we are supposed to be an Islamic country anf we are following this religion rules.

tesda2y belah ana haset bel a2man bara w 3omry ma khoft wna mashya bara fy ay share2 zay mana 7asa hena! haga teksef bgd!

Wild at Heart said...

God I'm grateful I found your blog again my dear fellow-blogger after months of loss :)
Looks like word is really spreading fast on what seems to be so fast the second (public) case against harassers. You are actually speaking my mind ya Shaimaa so I really have nothing to add, only that when I was 19, I knew right from wrong.

Ola said...

She did the right thing, 3o2balna ya Rab

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Noly
Yes, baladna malyana 7agat te2ref. welly ye2ref aktar howa en el 7a2 beyt2leb batel we fi nas betshaga3 dah.
Wel moshekla el akbar enek tela2y wa7ed beytanten be2esm el deen we ye2olek asl el Islam howa el 7al. With all my due respect, fi baladna el khema el sooda betet3akes mesh 3ashan bayen menha 7aga la2 3ashan ontha, wel ontha fi baladna fi nas shayfa enaha makhloo2a bas 3ashan 7aga wa7da.

It is a real shame.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Wild at Heart
It is really a pleasure that you found your way back to my blog. I have been following your ocassional posts. I really hope you blog more often.

I am sure every Egyptian girl have stories to tell about harassments. It starts too early. Actually, 13 and 14 yrs old girls are being harassed.
I really hope it will come to an end.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Ola
Yes, 3o2balna lama kol wa7da fina te3mel el 7aga el sa7 fi el wa2t el sa7

Thank you for passing by :)

LiL^OrioN said...

gaaahhh.. that bad? sometimes, i wish i could migrate, but sometimes, i'm thankful i live in singapore, safe and secure. because the laws here protect the women, both muslims and non-muslims. it's also one of the strictest, especially when it comes to drug law. it deters the nation, and most men are frightened to do anything to women here.

geeee.. should raise international awareness about this issue ...

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Haz
It is kind of tricky to describe the current Egyptian sitiuation for non Egyptians.
Egypt was known of its safety, we actually have songs about how safe Egypt is.
But Egypt has been going through a lot of change recently.
A change that's been reflected on the behaviour of many of the Egyptians. Those living in Cairo are the most affected by the changes. Because it is a really crowded city. Frustration appears in its worst forms in Cairo.
A form of this frustration is sexual harassement.
It is a new crime that's why it is taking much attention. We weren't used to be harassed this way in the streets. That's why it is shocking and that's why the law was never enforced before.
But there is a law to protect women, and there is a cultural rejection of such crimes. And there are still the good kind Egyptians every where who would offer help without even being asked but it is the fact that there are bad Egyptians there too that makes us worry.
We are not used to have these bad people among us. That's why we are reacting this way. In a try to get Egypt back to be one of the safest places on earth.

Mohaly said...

people who harass have sick minds!

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Mohaly
I completely agree. They are sick but unfortunately increasing in numbers and trying to make what they do seem rightful because of what the woman wears! Pathetic!

Thanks for passing by :)