|This is an anti-sexual harassment artwork made by Egyptian graffiti artist Ganzeer. The artwork represents a typical male narrative of sexual violence. The sentence reads: “Are you a man or an assaulting animal?”|
Many of the so-called revolutionaries thought it was not the right time to talk about gender equality, that women gain rights as the political struggle proceeds, and that the gender-related issues raised are pushed by western-liberal propaganda. Many times, I thought the incidents of sexual harassment in Egypt were exaggerated or too few.
When I first read reports on ‘gang rape’ in Tahrir square last year, I dismissed them thinking they are only rumors by the many weird Egyptian websites and ‘yellow newspapers.’ In the past few months though, Egyptian women screamed loudly enough to mobilize themselves and others around the world to protest sexual violence.
Last year, the anti-sexual harassment march was attacked in Cairo and it was discouraging to organize another one. This year, harassment is no longer the appropriate word because it is rightly replaced with sexual violence as we see videos of gang rapes happening on the margins of massive marches.
Weeks ago, Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas tweeted a scene of Egyptian women getting searched before entering the book fair. Many of them turned in knives; a scene that tells us about the kind of reality Egyptian women have adapted themselves to. Shortly after, we saw women marching with knives in Cairo threatening to play the game of violence if necessary.