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Anti-harassment activist “depressed”

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172 harassers arrested amid intensive efforts to fight the phenomenon

Demonstration in Cairo against sexual harassment in Egypt on July 6, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES / AHMED MAHMUD)

Demonstration in Cairo against sexual harassment in Egypt on July 6, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES / AHMED MAHMUD)

Despite measures taken by anti-harassment campaigns to prepare for Eid, more than 172 harassment incidents were reported on the first two days.

In Cairo, at least 87 harassers were arrested; most of them in Downtown where many people go to cinemas, restaurants and other public places to celebrate Eid, which represents the peak season for harassment.

Anti-harassment measures were also taken in Fayoum with 31 arrested, 29 in Giza, 19 in Suez and five in Luxor.

Several campaigns announced before Eid that they will take to the streets to fight harassment and they would take action themselves instead of waiting for the police.

“One would expect better morals after the revolution, but harassment is a disease in Egyptian society” said Norhan Osama founder of Kama Tadeen Todan (as you condemn you will be condemned) campaign.

She explained that during the first days of Eid the campaign covered Emad El-Din Street in Downtown till 9 pm; “we’re organised in groups of five and when an incident of group harassment is spotted they raise a flag and others come to help.

“There’s a main leader whose job is to withdraw the groups when the situation gets out of control.”

Major General Osama Al-Sagheir, assistant minister of interior for the Cairo security sector visited a number of Cairo movie theatres to ensure the presence of enough officers and security personnel to prevent harassment.

The National Council for Women (NCW) created a free hotline (0800 888 38 88) for harassment reports during Eid, and urged girls and women to report incidents. The NCW is leading a campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior, Al-Azhar, and the Egyptian church with the support of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

The I Have Seen Harassment campaign issued a statement condemning the blame girls receive when they report harassment to the police. The statement said that a member of the campaign was harassed and so reported the incident the police station. The family of the culprit threatened her and police officers were said to be sympathizing with the harasser, but under pressure from lawyers the perpetrator was imprisoned pending investigation.

The I Have Seen Harassment campaign offers legal assistance to girls to encourage them to report.

“I am depressed” said Dina Farid, the general coordinator of Egypt’s Girls are a Red Line campaign, “we were on the streets yesterday and the police were helping us but it’s still not working.”

She added harassers tried to strip a girl and the campaign members saved her, but her leg was broken in the assault. Another girl passed out when harassers chased her.

“These boys have nothing to do, harassment is their Eid activity. We tried to save girls before they are harassed but we were not able to, they are just too many” Farid said.

She added that harassers have knives and use them to attack anyone who tries to intervene, “however, there were other young men who saw what we were doing and joined us, they are the true youth of Egypt.”

She also suggested solutions like activities for youth during Eid, an on-the-spot fine for harassers, “or even shaving the harasser’s [head], just anything that would deter others.”


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