Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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EGYPT: Women no longer silent about sexual harassment

December 17, 2008 |  8:24 am


She was leaving the bus in Cairo when the driver touched her in a way a stranger shouldn’t.

"I screamed at him, 'You're an animal!' "said Shaimaa Abdel Rahman Aref, a 28-year-old graduate business student. "I felt as if he was striking at my pride. I wish he had beaten me instead. It would have been much less humiliating, especially that I was veiled and not wearing anything that would arouse a man."

Aref took down the bus number and went to the police. But she found herself confronting a patriarchal society in which authorities are often indifferent to crimes against women and many families pressure their daughters and sisters to forgo justice rather than invite scandal. She said several police officers ridiculed her and her parents scolded her for breaching the line between humility and honor.

To read more about women like Aref taking action against sexual harassment in Egypt, click here

-- Jeffrey Fleishman and Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Women walking in Cairo. Credit: Associated Press