Home > Cairo, Uncategorized > Sexual Harassment – “678”

Sexual Harassment – “678”

I think most of us know that sexual harassmaent is a problem world-wide.  It comes in a variety of forms, spans a wide range of degrees, and remains oppressive, belittling, and just plain wrong no matter where you are.  Yet it is often an incredibly difficult subject to talk about, as well as understand.  I saw an Egyptian movie which offered a lot of insight into the problem here in Egypt earlier this week, and it inspired this post.  It was called “678” and was filmed and produced here in Cairo.  I’d recommend checking it out if you have a few minutes; it will definitely give you something to think about.  Here’s a link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5XI_4rx134  The video itself has english subtitles.

My experiences over here in Cairo have ingrained a few things in my mind. One of them has been a heightened awareness of the fact that, as a man, I am often completely unaware of a number of concerns, inconveniences and potential fears that women around the world are forced to deal with on a daily basis.  I don’t think I even came close to understanding the extent to which these things can influence one’s day-to-day lifestyle until I came here.  Maybe that’s just because Cairo has much more harassment than other places I’ve lived, or maybe it’s simply because the harassment women face here is more frequent and completely unabashed.

From what I’ve seen, I’m starting to think that concerns about sexual harassment influence nearly every aspect of daily life – from how a girl dresses and speaks, to what she chooses to do with her free time – here in Cairo.  It seems to me that sexual harassment, be it physical or verbal, is one of the most fundamental reasons that the concerns, inconveniences and fears mentioned above exist.  This may be the case in the States, but I think it is much more prevalent here in Egypt.

For example, some of my friends have had taxi drivers try to make them watch porn on cellphones, forcing them to jump out of taxis in the middle of traffic at random points around the city just to escape the situation.  Others have been accosted in the street when walking alone during the middle of the day.  The idea that Western women are promiscuous and open to sexual advances from anyone simply because of where they are from – despite how the dress, talk and act – leads to constant and daily verbal harassment.

I’m not going to try to analyze the problem, or talk about solving it.  I’m not really sure that as a guy I can ever fully appreciate it.  Also, I hear a lot about what’s best for the “Arab world” from Westerners here who seem to think they know what’s best for the people of Egypt simply because they come from Europe or the US, as though their Western nationality gives them some sort of magical ability to solve all of the problems Egypt and the Middle East face today.  I’m not going to add my uninformed opinions to that already ignorant mix. 

  What I will say, however, is this: constant verbal harassment is as Egyptian (or at least as Caireen), as watching football on Sunday afternoon is American.  Of course, not everyone does it, but you’ll see it everyday if you live in this city, just as you’ll hear the score of the Skins game by Sunday night in Washington, even if you’re not a fan. It’s frustrating to see, and I’m sure much more difficult to live and put up with. 

 So, at the risk of sounding  a little pedantic, or like I’m trying to relate to an issue I doubt I’ll ever be able to fully grasp, from one guy thinking about his sister, mom and girlfriend alot this week: Ladies — Egyptian, American, whatever — I’m sorry this is something you have to deal with.

Categories: Cairo, Uncategorized
  1. Elizabeth Hofstedt
    January 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I am not surprised. It is a brutal experience especially when you don’t have the financial freedom to just leave. You are very wise T3.

  2. Kgplofchan@aol.com
    January 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    There were no English subtitles and I was unable to figure out if there is a way to get them. Did anyone else have any luck?

    • January 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Well I couldn’t find the trailer anywhere with English subtitles, but if you were to buy the movie online you would find it with them…

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