Women face sexual harassment on streets of Egypt

Sexual harassment has long been a prevailing social phenomenon in Egypt. But what is different is that women no longer keep silent against this phenomenon.


Cairo- Despite the prison term ranging from two to four years for those who sexually assault women in in public or private places, sexual harassment has long been a prevailing social phenomenon in Egypt. Due to social pressure, most cases go unreported. In this article, several victims of sexual harassment talked about what they faced after they were sexually harassed on the streets of Egypt. 

She was afraid of her family 

“When I was sexually harassed by a man on the streets, I beat him. However, I did not think of going to report him for fear of my family,” said Hoda Alaa, one of the victims of sexual harassment. Hoda Alaa has been subjected to sexual harassment on the streets many times. “I am not the only women, who is sexually harassed on the streets,” she added. 

Whenever Hoda Alaa is sexually harassed on the streets, she prefers to and beat the harassers to protect herself instead of reporting the harassers. “For years, I have kept silent. I am a student at Helwan University and sometimes I have to walk in crowded streets to go to university. I am afraid of my family because my family believes that girls and women are sexually harassed because of their actions. Instead of reporting the harassment to police, I take my own rights by beating harassers. If I tell my family I have been sexually harassed on the streets, they will not allow me to go out. I can protect myself but cannot report the harassers.” 

  ‘The best way is to expose the harassers’ 

Mai Adel is another victim of sexual harassment. “One day, a man tried to sexually harass me at Giza Square. I slapped him in the face. When you report harassers to the police, they go unpunished so the best way is to expose the harassers.” 

Salwa Sayed thinks that women are sexually harassed on the streets because of social acceptance. “Once, a man held my arm although there were many people, including women. They all kept silent without doing anything. My body froze but then I shouted at him and he ran away.” 

Jannat Fawzi was sexually harassed on a bus on one night of the month of Ramadan. Although she screamed and insisted on the driver to take her to the police station, “However, the driver and the passengers stood by him telling me that he was like my brother and I should not destroy his future. He touched my body; however, it was not considered an attack on my dignity or my feelings. For a week, I could not go out in fear of being sexually harassed again. Our society blames girls and women for being sexually harassed.” 

She was beaten by her father 

When Salma Jamil’s father learned that a man had sexually harassed her, he beat her. “I was on my way to university when a man verbally assaulted me. One of passerby told my father that a man had sexually harassed me. Before I was afraid of reporting the harassers to the police but now I am not afraid. I will never forget and forgive my father for beating me.” 

Egyptian law punishes physical harassment with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 EGP. The penalty for verbal harassment is a fine of up to 10,000 EGP, up to one year in prison, or both. The penalty is doubled if the victim is a minor and triple if the offender is a public servant. 

“Despite the law, women and girls are still subjected to harassment,” said lawyer Hiam Al-Janaini, calling on victims of sexual harassment to, “report harassers to police without fear.”