We ask women about their most triumphant reactions to sexual harassment to inspire you to speak up.
Women in Cairo all have one problem in common: they are subject to harassment and provocation on a daily basis by men who are fascinated by everything about them. Unfortunately, to express their admiration, men in Cairo rarely find the correct words to do so (which would be no words but a quiet thought about the ladies). We have accumulated the best stories of how women in our offices faced harassment and fought back against the ridiculousness of harassing men.
Rania was traveling in her car on a deserted street in Alexandria with her mother when her tire exploded. Truly, this is not the kind of situation that would make women in Egypt feel at ease, and soon Rania and her mother started noticing a man sitting not far away from their car with his junk out. His eyes were focused on Rania, his hands were focused on something else. Rania called her fiancé and told him about the incident. The masturbating observer took flight. To his disadvantage, Rania’s fiancé was not just going to drop it there: he followed the attacker and confronted him. Needless to say, this guy may think twice about the next time he commits indecencies in public, even if the police isn’t around.
On her way to school, Noura was passed by a 17-year-old boy who did not refrain from giving her butt a good slap while she walked by. Unable to accept this behaviour, Noura knocked the boy off the bike and took it to her house. The next day, she found the police at her doorstep as someone had filed a report against Noura for theft. Consequently, Noura filed a report against the boy who was detained. Facing three years in prison, Noura decided to drop her report after a few days in an effort to not ruin the boy’s life, however, the message most likely sunk in, and hopefully the boy will not be whipping strangers' butts anymore.
Walking on the Qasr Al Nil Bridge, a group of teenagers were following Sina, attempting to talk to her in Arabic. Sina’s lack of Arabic made it easy for her not to engage with it, but the boys switched to English fast, stopping her in her tracks and telling her the lovely words “I want fuck you!” Upon receiving a slap in the face from Sina, the boy, about ten inches shorter than her, looked a bit shocked, while his friends were furiously laughing. All of them, however, proceeded to their next destination, without saying a thing more.
When Sev was walking close to the Opera House, she realised she was being followed. When the man following her didn’t pass her even after she slowed her pace, she realised he had silently gotten his manly parts out while walking behind her. Sev was having none of it shouting at him and following him as he was running away from her, frantically swearing, she spotted a police officer. She dog whistled him and shouted “catch that guy!” Many people started shouting the same as they had witnessed the scene. When the guy was caught by police, he claimed he was merely offering Sev some water. Sev responded “I was married for 20 years, I think I know the difference between a penis and a bottle!” As the indecent man was facing up to a year in prison after Sev made a testimony, the officer applauded her courage but urged her to refrain from such behaviour as she could have been killed.
Waiting at a station, Nicola was minding her own business as a tram passed, a boy leaned out and casually grabbed her breast. Naturally, this kind of behaviour called for a response: Nicola started running after the tram in pursuit of the boy. Since it wasn’t going very fast, she was able to catch up, drag the boy from the tram and push him towards onlookers who had witnessed the incident and gave the boy “a lesson [she was] sure he wouldnt forget.”
Using these stories as an inspiration for how one should react should be treated with caution, however. The size and danger of a man harassing a woman can be underestimated, and ultimately staying save should be one’s first priority. Most of the common indecencies by men are supposed to catch a woman’s attention, and ignoring them is the best reaction. On the other hand, many don’t like to be silent when obnoxious man are vying for their attention. A simple “Fi 7aga?!” might be the best response because there is clearly no reason why men harass women. In any case, help from other males is almost always essential, so stay safe, women of Cairo.