This video this is a heart-wrenching video that is incredibly difficult for me to watch. For me, this reflects parts of my life in Morocco. Although, I never allow myself to get that close to a group of boys / men nor do I venture out at night by myself- parts of this video feel familiar. I won’t say that, for me, Morocco has been this difficult or suffocating but the parts that feel familiar leave my a pain in my heart for these women who experience this type of invasive and horrible treatment every day.
In a powerful PSA by United Nations Women, viewers are put in the position of an Egyptian woman as she experiences terrible sexual harassment everywhere she goes.
Though not a new issue, sexual harassment in Egypt has come under recent international scrutiny following the many horrifying accounts of sexual assaults that came out of the Tahrir Square protests of dictator Hosni Mubarak and then of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. 91.5% of Egyptian women say that they’ve been groped by strangers in public and 99.3% say that they’ve encountered some form of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, these women are often victim blamed and their complaints are rarely taken seriously.
“When we try to complain, even to friends or family but especially to authorities, they say we are to blame because of the way we dress, the way we act, where we were walking,” May Iskander, a student women’s rights activist at Cairo University, told Buzzfeed. “And you can be a full women in a full niqab [headscarf] and still be harassed. Whoever doesn’t know this doesn’t live in Egypt.”
The United Nations Women PSA attempts to make men better understand the daily plight of Egyptian women, stating “Every day she faces humiliation, anger, she lives in fear, and she experiences violence… put yourself in her shoes, instead of finding ways to blame her.”
In watching the PSA, it becomes clear that this kind of sexual harassment is not a specifically Egyptian problem. Women all over the world face unwanted touching, comments and seedy behavior from men in a variety of circumstances, whether it be riding the bus, walking down the street or simply attempting to exist in the public sphere.