Monday, November 8, 2010

Sexual Harassment: Egypt

For the most part, my posts have focused directly on Egyptian politics, sometimes without pointing out what effect government policies have on Egyptian society and everyday life in Cairo. This past week I read an article/blog post that discusses the growing phenomenon of sexual harassment in Egypt. Anyone who has visited Egypt cannot help but notice the leering, whistling and, at times, groping of women in the streets. But if you ask any Egyptian, this phenomenon only appeared in the last thirty years, after the introduction of Sadat's economic liberalization policies. Often it is attributed to the deterioration of traditional values, as well as the introduction of conservative religious ideas that limit the role of women in the public sphere or the arrival of Western social ills depending on who is commenting on the issue. In the article, however, Nehad Abu al Komsan,the Director for the Center for Women's Rights, adds another factor to the analysis, stating, "[the Egyptian regime] is more interested in political security, than public security." In practice, this means that some social ills are tolerated because they do not pose an existential threat to the regime. Although Egyptian and foreign women certainly pay a high price, sexual harassment is one of these nuisances that the government of Egypt is not willing or prepared to combat.

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