Egyptian Women Protest Rape
A problem for decades in Egypt, sexual harassment against women has been on the rise in Egypt since the 2011 uprising. A 2013 report by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women reporting that 99.3% of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, reports EgyptianStreets.com.
As in most countries around the world, women are blamed for causing their own sexual harassment because of how we walk, how we talk or how we dress. In the case of the Egyptian women, daring to enter society as professionals is a reason to accept the inevitability of sexual harassment.
Society’s Complicit Role In Sexual Harassment
Two new songs released this summer articulate strongly society’s complicit role in promoting sexual harassment head on.
The first video with almost 1 million page views is by the rapper Zap Tharwat and singer Menna Hussein. While there are no subtitles in English, the message is clear to all who watch the popular culture artistry.
This second song ‘I won’t blame the harasser’ by Abo stresses that he is holding society responsible and not the harasser. Again from EgyptianStreets.com:
The music video follows actress and activist Sarra Abdelrahman as she takes out her anger on a projection of mob harassment in Tahrir Square and TV anchors denouncing the victims of one of the many sexual assaults on women in Tahrir this year.
In a superb statement on the role of media and popular culture in promoting women’s sexual harassment, writer Mustafa Abdel-Halim —a London-based broadcast journalist and lecturer at the University of Westminster, underscores the opportunity for art and culture to promote a questioning voice against long-held cultural assumptions against women.
Street Art & Violence Against Women
Sexual harassment is now a crime in Egypt, but no one has high expectations of major changes as a result. Time will tell. Street artists are also joining Egypt’s artistic community. The ArtNewspaper.com reports a new term ‘artivists’, a term increasingly used in Egypt to describe artists who are also activists.
Melody Patry, a London-based film-maker and advocacy officer for the charity Index on Censorship, spent several months in Egypt last year interviewing around 20 artists for her documentary, “Shout Art Loud”, which she finished in June. The aim of the film, Patry says, is “to break down the barriers between art and daily life and to encourage women to speak out against sexual assault”. Patry says the term “artivists” is increasingly being used in Egypt to describe artists who are also activists.
Artist and activist Merna Thomas is featured in Patry’s documentary ‘Shout Art Loud’. Thomas co-founded the project ‘Graffiti Harimi’ in 2012 with the goal of promoting ‘positive images of women in public spaces.
‘Shout Out Loud’ Trailer