A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"End Sexual Harassment Day" for Bloggers and Tweeters in Egypt

Egyptian bloggers and tweeters have declared today a day to post in protest of sexual harassment, after an anti-sexual harassment march by women last Friday was broken up in Tahrir square by attacks from "thugs" (baltagiyya). Though this was technically the second blogging and tweeting day against sexual harassment — the first was last year — last Friday's attack clearly exacerbated things. Tweets today are mostly found under #EndSH; a few under other hashtags, including the Arabic  لا للتحرش, and #StopSH.
The latest wave of anger has emerged in the wake of continuing attacks on women during major demonstrations in Tahrir Square. This report by Sarah El Deeb for the Associated Press preceded the most recent outrages. Then came the women's demonstration last Friday, which was attacked by unidentified baltagiyyaHere is Sarah El Deeb's report on that attack, for Associated Press. And a video (Arabic) from Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Some of the recent blogging in English:

"Post Jan25 Random Posts," :They were Cowards and I Shall Remain."

Zeinobia, #EndSH: Again We Face Ugly Reality"

Holly Dagres, "Fight Harassment 101: Egypt's Obstacle to Ending Sexual Harassment."

 A document from the activist group nazra.org [PDF], "[Three] Testimonies  on Recent Sexual Assaults on Tahrir Square Vicinity."

Blogger identified as "Hana," "Helplessness is How They Win."

And one by a male blogger, "Helpless."

And the interactive website HarassMap remains a tool in the battle against this extensive and widespread problem.

Hands Off! (Lit., Cut Your Hands)
 Of course Egypt is not the only country in the region where women being groped in the street is all too frequent. But what is particularly alarming is the fact that security forces have regularly used such attacks as a tactic against female protesters. The notorious "blue bra woman" incident last December remains a vivid image of sexual violence tool, which led to Secretary of State Clinton's denunciation of the "systematic degradation of women" in Egypt,.

This is not just an issue that has arisen since the revolution, nor one that stems primarily from political motives. I won't ramble on about it again here, but suggest you read the testimonies of those who deal with it every day, and consider this a voice in support from a man with both a wife and a daughter.

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