Women in Egypt Harassed, Mutilated and Disenfranchised

Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in Egypt and gang rapes continue to shock the country. Where does this excessive violence come from?

When was she first sexually harassed? Nour energetically sips her mint lemonade through a straw. “When I was eight,” she says, as she eyes a passing group of young men who are talking boisterously and blatantly staring at her.

It’s a hot and humid evening in downtown Cairo. The air is filled with the usual sound of hundreds of blaring car horns, and Nour has to speak loudly to make herself heard above the din. Unlike many Egyptian women who suffer in silence, though, she is determined to speak — and be heard.

She recalls going to the Shubra area east of the Nile to buy drawing paper for school, when she ran into a roughly 60-year-old man struggling with two heavy shopping bags. “Give me a hand!” he said to her, and Nour dutifully carried the bags to his house. On the way there, the man placed a hand on her shoulder. Then she says his hands wandered across her entire body. “I simply froze,” Nour says. “He wanted to take me to his apartment. That’s when I started crying.”

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