The End - 2000 to 2009

Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women?

By Cynthia Johnston

CAIRO (Reuters) – Nearly two-thirds of Egyptian men admit to having sexually harassed women in the most populous Arab country, and a majority say women themselves are to blame for their maltreatment, a survey showed Thursday.

The forms of harassment reported by Egyptian men, whose country attracts millions of foreign tourists each year, include touching or ogling women, shouting sexually explicit remarks, and exposing their genitals to women. “Sexual harassment has become an overwhelming and very real problem experienced by all women in Egyptian society, often on a daily basis,” said the report by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights.

Egyptian women and female visitors frequently complain of persistent sexual harassment on Egyptian streets, despite the socially conservative nature of this traditional Muslim society.

The behavior could have repercussions on Egypt’s tourism industry, a major foreign income earner, with 98 percent of foreign women saying they had experienced harassment in the country, the survey said.

The survey of more than 2,000 Egyptian men and women and 109 foreign women said the vast majority of Egyptians believed that sexual harassment in Egypt was on the rise, citing a worsening economic situation and a lack of awareness or religious values.

It said 62 percent of Egyptian men reported perpetrating harassment, while 83 percent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed. Nearly half of women said the abuse occurred daily.

Only 2.4 percent of Egyptian women reported it to the police, with most saying they did not believe anyone would help. Some feared reporting harassment would hurt their reputations.

“The vast majority of women did nothing when confronted with sexual harassment,” the survey said, adding that most Egyptian women believed the victim should “remain silent.”

Some 53 percent of men blamed women for bringing on sexual harassment, saying they enjoyed it or were dressed in a way deemed indecent. Some women agreed.

“Out of Egyptian women and men interviewed, most believe that women who wear tight clothes deserve to be harassed,” the survey said. It added most agreed women should be home by 8 p.m.

The survey said most of the Egyptian women who told of being harassed said they were dressed conservatively, with the majority wearing the Islamic headscarf. The harassment took place on the streets or on public transport, as well as in tourist destinations and foreign educational institutions.

(Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Caroline Drees)

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  • 14 Responses for "Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women?"

    1. shirien July 18th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

      2/3rd of egyptian men live on the street. it’s horrible when you walk … even if i were to walk with my male relatives here.. they wait until you are a couple of steps behind them then they harass you.

      they’ll follow you, try to whisper things in your ear, sometimes say really crude things, and then there is the occasional guy that tries to touch you.. but that one’s pretty rare..

      people were discussing it on my blog here:

      http://egyptiangumbo.com/pshh-cmon-you-know-its-true-things-you-find-in-egypt-96.htm

    2. BeHumble July 19th, 2008 at 3:44 am

      That’s pretty shocking… why would these men do this? Aren’t they Muslims?

    3. Dawud Israel July 19th, 2008 at 1:09 pm

      Egypt actually has a marriage problem because it’s hard to find a job and support yourself but everyone expects they still get educated…there was an article about this a while back on how difficult it is now in Egypt to get married and that more people are becoming religious as a result of it…but the gov’t there sponsors “mass weddings” so…

    4. Dusty_Face July 19th, 2008 at 1:31 pm

      Filthy disgusting p*gs!

      I thought the hijab was suppose to protect them Muslim women from this kind of abuse? We hear time and time again how western women are exploited and are seen as sexual objects etc, etc, but in reality Muslim men also see Muslim women as objects, although covered – she is still a piece of meat.

      Also, sexual harassment is not only confined to Cairo, it also goes on in Mecca believe it or not during the pilgrimage season. Women have been ‘touched up’ during Hajj.

    5. shirien July 19th, 2008 at 7:33 pm

      sure hijab DOES protect women. most girls in egypt though dont wear hijab correctly.. they still wear tight clothes. i get harassed a lot less now because i wear abayah, and niqaabis hardly get harassed.

      it’s HERE you see the wisdom behind hijab.

      the girls that dont wear hijab at all are the ones that get harassed the most, not only with guys saying things to them but they try to touch them too.

      they are pigs, but then again.. they live on the streets and arent religious.

    6. confused July 19th, 2008 at 10:34 pm

      This is a HUGE problem in Egypt. I am a Muslim Egyptian American and visit Cairo every summer to see my family. It is impossible to walk alone without having a male or an older female with you. But as Shirien said above, despite that they wait for the right moment to say something that makes you want to just turn and slap them. You could wear jilbab or even niqab and still have this happen to you so its not an issue of the way the women in Egypt dress, especially since the majority of women wear hijab.

      Its like Dawud said, Egypt is having a huge issue with marriage. Because there are no jobs and since the demands of brides are so high and much its close to impossible for a guy to afford to get married. This leaves you with a lot of single guys who end up either becoming religious or harrassing women on streets.

    7. Your sister July 19th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

      thats…horrible -.-

    8. Umm Amani July 21st, 2008 at 9:46 pm

      ASA- There are jerks everywhere you go. Having said that, when you have a culture where women tend to think that other women somehow deserve to be harrassed, what do you expect the average man in that society to think?

    9. Asim July 22nd, 2008 at 3:01 pm

      Here’s the article I think Br. Dawud was talking about: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/world/middleeast/17youth.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

    10. anon August 3rd, 2008 at 11:51 pm

      What Umm Amani said is so true, about women blaming the women. Shirien’s comments made that amply clear. When she basically laid the blame on the women who wear hijab “improperly” The onus should be on the man with the dick. Not the women.

      And if niqaab supposedly works so splendidly than why are there all those reports of hugely pregnant women in niqaab and old ladies in niqaab also being sexually harrassed in Saudi Arabia? Let me guess, they are wearing niqaab improperly. Sexual crimes and sexual violence have nothing to do with what a woman wears. If “proper” hijab and niqaab worked so well there would be no such crimes in Afghanistan or Saudi.

    11. some1fromsaudi August 7th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

      How can you compare rare or occasional sexual crimes with egypt’s daily crimes and then say what you said about the niqab. Saudi Arabia’s sexual crimes are not even close to egypt’s. If all women stopped wearing hijab and niqab in saudi, this will increase sexual harassment and especially ogling in saudi. Just ask anyone who’s lived or is living in saudi.

      The number of sexual harassment cases depend on many things including what women wear, that’s a fact. A guy can tell you that. Ask a guy!!!!

      I’m in no way supporting what the men are doing in egypt. It’s the fault of both. And it’s the men who are more sick and more at fault because they are the ones actually committing the crime with their hands/tongues. The women are at fault because they know that men would harass them if they wear these clothes, and they still do.

      I’m not saying harassment would stop if women stopped wearing tight clothes, but it would surely lessen.

      And Allah knows best.
      AssalamAlaykum

    12. Khadija August 7th, 2008 at 9:53 pm

      I went to egypt and I HATED the sexual harassment
      the fact that you need to wear an abaya or niqab to lessen harassment is ridiculous to even consider…

      there are non-muslims in that country and plenty of foreign tourists for one
      and for two, there is no excuse for masturbating in front of a woman
      i mean come on….

      please don’t defend sexual harassment with the wisdom of hijab; im not saying there is no wisdom of hijab i wear hijab but i HATE when people bring it up in cases of sexual harassment

      insult sexual harassment with the wisdom of lowering the gaze first

    13. Kathleen October 3rd, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      I think if women took a more aggresive response to the problem it would make them think twice. Like spitting, or slapping or hitting with stick. The umbrella can be a great weapon!!!!

    14. Lozah October 4th, 2009 at 9:06 am

      I’ve been living in Egypt for 16 years and can say that harassment is a real problem, and it’s getting worse. A scary incident of mass sexual harassment caused controversy a couple of years ago when on the 1st day of Eid ul-Fitr groups of men surrounded women on the street harassing them, pulling of their hijabs, even women in abayas and niqab got harassed. The police didn’t believe them until a citizen reporter posted a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2SGamUeMec&feature=player_embedded. Watch the video. No this isn’t a protest or a rally or anything, it’s just a few girls walking, with throngs of men following them!
      I wrote about the phenomenon of harassment here http://bikyamasr.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/bm-news-lozah-responds-to-sexual-harassment/

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