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Egypt: No Sexual Harassment Here, says the First Lady

Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women showed a survey reported by Reuters. Global Voices Online wrote about this topic the aftermath of the recent events here, here, here, here, and most recently here. But Egypt's first lady Suzanne Mubarak thinks otherwise.

Zeinobia writes in English:

Suzanne Mubarak said (in Al Ahram Newspaper) that Sexual Harassment in Egypt can’t be considered a phenomenon because of a couple of incidents!! She accused the media and the radical Islamists of blowing those incidents out of proportion!!

The first lady's statement does not surprise me. After all she, her husband, and her son believe that everything is fine and great in Egypt so you want to say something is wrong in the country in front of her !!

My dear friends Mrs. Mubarak does not walk in the streets alone except when they are cleaned from every thing including the humans. How would she see the sexual harassments incidents? How would she hear from other women and girls around her about their experiences if they live in an Egypt different than the Egypt we live in? How would she know if those who around her tell her day and night that everything is fine and great in Egypt?

It is ok that you live in a Palace and you move with bodyguards but do not underestimate that terrible phenomenon when the Western countries warn their females tourists from it. Do not underestimate it when your own official state research centers speak about fearful percentages of women who are harassed on a daily basis.

It is so provoking to hear her say such thing when she claims to be a feminist leader who liberated Egyptian Women in the last 26 years !!

In Arabic The Voice of Egypt links to news sources quoting Mubarak on sexual harassment. The blogger notes:

طبعاً بنلتمس للسيدة سوزان مبارك كل العذر لأنها عمرها ما مشيت في الشارع في مصر
Of course, we excuse Mrs Suzanne Mubarak because she has never walked on Egypt's streets in her life.

10 comments

  • Excuse me, but allow me to disagree, such reports about sexual harassment are nothing more than crap.
    “Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women” !!?
    Sexual Harassment may exist here and there, but media loves to exaggerate all the time. Two-Thirds, they mush be kidding!!

  • Rania Soliman

    To Tarek,

    Do not try to make this horror look good. Denying the problem will not solve it. In fact almost 100% of the girls and women in Egypt are harassed almost every day by almost everybody they meet in the street, at work, and maybe even by some family members.

    You have no %$#@!& idea.

    Tfoo 3ala da sha3b.

  • Ahmed Ali

    its not a harrasment case
    its just the typical story of how rulers (especially arabic) see their people

    I’ve known this story
    it says that in the “Abbasi” reign the “wali” (equal 2 a state ruler in the us) wanted 2 make sure about the news that spread in town that their is a district called the “poverted district” because all people there have almost nothing
    so he told his “arms chief” (kinda like minister of interior & defence in the same time these days) about his intention 2 visit that district
    & the chief answered : ok,sir but we have 2 make it secure 4 u 1st & arrange the visit
    & so they changed the sign of the district & out it instead of the 1 of the rich district
    so the “wali” went & was real happy & astonished that the poverted people live in these standards.. he even wondered how the rich r living

    in the end he got a brilliant idea
    he’ll increase the taxes on people

    thats the end of my story & the end of my words :(

  • Nihal Nour

    Excuse me but what media?! Egyptian? Suppose Egyptian media is blowing things out of proportion, would Western media TOO blow it out of proportion? Like the article says, female tourists are warned about sexual harassment to the extent that they’re given “booklets” with a transliteration of Arabic words and expressions considered sexually profane for them to know it when they’re harassed! We’re scandalized WORLD WIDE. Period.

    For Egypt’s first lady, Al sayyeda al fadila, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, I say… leave your “Egypt” & live in OUR Egypt for a couple of hours only and I assure you, you’ll ONLY THEN know what sexual harassment is my dear dear mother!

  • Lamia Serag

    Well Rania,
    With my due respect to you, Marwa, Zeinobia and Tarek.

    I am a middle class girl (if you can describe me as such). I’ve been living in Egypt all my life. Since day one. Seen its good and ugly faces. Melted between its people. All kind of people. Rich & poor. Men & women. Old & young.
    I’ll only add that: YES. Harassments happen from time to time. You can’t predict if its in the street or bus. And YES. It should be cured.
    But if you say:”Do not underestimate it “.. I tell you “Do not over estimate it” too!

    I’m not defending Suzy.. And I’m not back firing anybody. I only say, Girls.. Don’t propagate for an exaggerated image, because I am a girl, and I don’t see the 95% harassed cases you are talking about!

  • Hala

    I think the best way to solve this is by doing a survey asking both men and women were they harrassed before or not definitely there will be lies but the majority will tell the truth because i’m sure they want it to be resolved. I have been physically harrassed several times and i am also a middle class girl and dress like most average egyptian girls and i even if girls are a little bit revealing i don’t think it’s a good excuse for men to start touching them. If any of these harrassers travelled to any other country they wont’ dare to touch a women there.

  • whether the 2/3 stat is accurate or not doesn’t seem to be that important.

    as someone who recently moved to cairo i have been shocked at the in-your-face verbal harassment that i often see taking place in the streets. it definitely exists and needs to be addressed.
    how you go about doing that in a society that is this segregated and where it seems increasingly difficult for young men to marry (for financial reasons) is not so simple though.

    and does anyone really take what mrs mubarak says in al ahram seriously? i certainly haven’t met anyone who does.

  • […] actually stops the significant level of harassment faced by most Egyptian women. Mubarak, however, thinks it’s all a load of bunk. She recently told the Al Ahram paper that sexual harassment was limited to a couple of incidents […]

  • Sexual harrasement does exist in Egypt. I am an expat living in Egypt over 3 years and i have experienced harrasement or intimidation several times as have many of my female friends some are married and some unmarried.

    But i wouldnt say this make Egypt unsafe for women, i feel very safe here and a little bit of sexual harrasement is something that most women know how to handle. It would be interesting to see what the results are for other countries in the world. I am sure in the UK a survey would produce similar results.

    This is surely a global problem that needs to be addressed not just a problem in Egypt.

  • Melanie

    I lived in Cairo for two years and find so much I love about the country and culture, but the harassment drove me crazy. I agree with Nicola that it rarely crosses the line into a violation of safety, there are usually simply too many people around for that, but it is most certainly a violation of dignity. No man should feel comfortable offering/asking for sex from a stranger woman minding her own business in public. It is also disappointing how frequently women are made to feel responsible for the harassment and told to accept it mutely to avoid encouraging more or appearing open to the propositions.

    So I feel slightly like a hypocrite saying that the answer lies with women, but the men who do this are ignorant and aren’t going to change until they are somehow shamed into it, even though they are solely responsible for their behavior. I regret the many times that I simply pretended not to hear something disgusting rather than standing up for myself. It might not have changed the harasser’s behavior, but it would have made me feel better to draw a clear line and say (loudly) this is not acceptable. Perhaps being revealed as an ill-mannered fool in public enough times will make some men think twice.

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