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We Will Wear Dresses on 24 August

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Online campaign calls for women to take back their power and wear what they want

The group uses old Egyptian photos as proof and encouragement, Photo from Hanlbes Fasateen Facebook Group

The group uses old Egyptian photos as proof and encouragement, Photo from Hanlbes Fasateen Facebook Group

By Hadeel Hegazy

A new Facebook campaign has been launched calling for Egyptian women to take back their right to dress as they please: Hanlbes Fasateen, or We Will Wear Dresses.  The event is set to take place on 24 August and encourages women to wear a dress or skirt as they go about their days without being harassed or deemed inappropriate.

“The aim behind the campaign is urging girls to feel free to wear what they want; it’s their basic right,” said Michael Nazeehs, one of the campaign founders. The slogan of the campaign stems from the fact that many women feel restricted in their attire due to prevalent sexual harassment on the street. “We want them to say, ‘we are not afraid; we will wear what we want,’” Nazeehs said.

It is not the first campaign the group that Nazeehs is a part of has launched. “We have launched the No To Harassment campaign to push girls to speak of the harassment incidents they face on daily basis, and to spread awareness that the girl here is the victim,” he said. Another initiative is the Understand Me and Don’t Hurt Me campaign, which calls attention to female genital mutilation (FGM) and calls for women to embrace feminism.

Many times the blame for sexual harassment has been squarely put on the victim, often claiming she was dressed inappropriately, completely disregarding the fact that many modestly and conservatively dressed women are sexually harassed and assaulted. We Will Wear Dresses was launched after an incident in the Delta city of Tanta where a young woman who objected to harassment by standing in front of her harasser’s car was run over in response. The driver was arrested, but released not long after. This latest campaign is yet another social media initiative launched by young Egyptians to bring attention to the terrible situation women are facing in the country today.

The accompanying hashtag was picked by Twitter users, and hundreds of tweets expressed support for the idea. The campaign became popular shortly after it was launched, with 2,100 people confirming their “attendance” of the event to date, meaning they will wear a dress or skirt on 24 August.

We Will Wear Dresses received strong supports from Egyptian writer and poet Fatma Naoot, who noted the changing attitude towards women’s dress while sharing old black-and-white photos of her mother, aunt and grandmother from the middle of the century. “Dresses used to be an icon for elegancy and femininity at this time,” Naoot said. “People never behaved but with polite words.”

Nazeehs said that people’s feedback was mostly positive, and said: “the campaign was released right after Eid and it’s ongoing,” adding that he expects it to last longer than the 24 August, since many people are responding so favourably towards it.

The reactions on twitter discussed the background to the campaign, and the underlying problems that women face. One of the female tweeps said “wearing a dress in Egyptian streets nowadays is a heroic act; Egyptian girls struggle for their personal freedom.”

The campaign has also had its detractors. “What religion and which country’s traditions allow women to walk in streets with such outfits?” one of its opponents asked on Twitter. “Being free means free to take off your clothes?”

 

 

  • m m

    Oh they will be harrassed by men and many of their own women. Don’t cause trouble, don’t rock the boat, DON’T TEMP MEN OF LITTLE DICIPLINE.
    That’s insanity for each individual OWNS the responsiblity of their actions.
    I wish them much success for the custom now deprives much natural vitamins and it’s oppressive.

  • Lalala

    I’ll wear a dress on the 24th in solidarity with the ladies in Egypt!

    • Wallid jan

      Dont wear a haram dress? Allah loves the Egyptian women with hijab

  • Mike Goodwin

    I really support this. I wear a hat and loud shirts. These things express your personality. Not only that they bring the real you out.
    Women wearing dresses in Egypt is a statement of their power, their excitement for life and their desire to look great.
    I always want my wife to look great and feel wanted and appreciated.
    Go for it ladies.

  • Anna

    Wear dresses; live your lives! You are free spirits.

  • Anonymous

    As Much as I am 100% supporting this idea, as much as I think it will take a wrong turn. Globally, Egyptians need exposure, therefor getting married would be easier, minds will open up a little, and of course sexual harassment will considerably decrease

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  • Dan Huck

    Don’t you worry the US will label the behavior (wearing dresses) as anti-Islam?

    • Micah Shapiro

      what are u talking about. Since when did US give a damn about Islam

  • Yazmus

    This is a great article, could you point me in the direction of the Facebook page they’re campaigning on?

  • SVEA

    I support this! I will wear a dress to support this. Love you all Egytian Queens! Greetings from Svea in Sweden!

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  • YOTHI_TARZAN

    I have seen a similar photo from Afghanistan,

  • Johnny

    You have our support from Sweden! Well, at least from some of us… Instead “we” did put ON hijabs this week to “support” muslim womans…(Even some of our politics did this.)

    Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/hijab-outcry-sweden_n_3785356.html

    All girls should dress how they likes, dosent matters if its dresses, jeans, bikini, hijab etc But that “hijab” campain is not something I support, for many reasons. I hope you understand why.
    .
    This is not about Sweden anyway. I have much more respect for what you are doing! So good luck to this really brave campaign! Egypt woman rules!

  • britsh expat

    Are you being serious!
    Nice to see loads of non muslims commenting on this, encouraging this!
    Egypt is a majority muslim country, the people are happy being covered and having modesty. The ones who arnt dont!!
    Please keep your non islamic values to your self and take them somewhere where there needed
    Maybe America where people virtually walk around naked, maybe theyl need a dress or two.

    • Alex White

      It isn’t islamic, its mysogynistic, the Koran simply states modesty, nothing about being covered from head to toe, there were no burkhas or hijabs at the time of Mohammed, its a man made control mechanism.

  • Nubien

    Excellent initiative. Good Luck!

  • Azza Mohammad

    wonderful idea, i wear dresses, but i must have a car or call taxi cab, cannot walk in streets, i need support from men and women, i dream that all women wear skirts and dresses, look elegant and feminine..
    please, please, we need this campaign for one month to have real results

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  • Hadeel Ali

    I wear dresses whenever I want and I really couldn’t care less about what the majority thinks. I hate how the majority in Egypt just wanna control girls and suppress their needs and rights. A girl should be her self and only do what she wishes to do regardless of what others want. I dream that Egypt goes back to the level of elegance and class we used to have back in the 70s.

  • Gihan S. Soliman

    No one prevents women from wearing dresses in Egypt. It’s not against the law !!! Yet, Unless laws are amended to protect women against harassment and violence; you are really wasting your time!!!

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  • Svensk Svensson

    I support this 100% and more!!!

    It is ALL womens personal right to wear what ever they want to wear, and if some men can not behave like a gentleman around a women in a dress, then THOSE MEN can not be trusted in society!!! They either need to change or get some kind of treatment (psycological, medical etc.))… since THEY ARE the issue NOT women in dresses ect.

    Good luck Ladies! :)

  • Khaled Tawfik

    Egyptian women : Say “NO” to men in your life and enjoy being women…..

  • http://shikenan.com/Life-Abroad NigeriansinAmerica

    dressing up is a thing of the mind, everybody should be allowed to wear whatever they want

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  • Muhammed Burhan al-Din

    I see women in Cairo walking around in clothing that looks like it is painted on (they might as well be naked), so I don’t see what the big deal of wearing a dress is. Regardless of what you choose to wear in Egypt, it’s not the clothes, it is the continual harassment by the sub-humans that walk the streets in Egypt that you have to be concerned about.

  • Magnetic

    So what’s the deal with that campaign? Women do already wear dresses all the time. At a first glance, I thought the topic was about wearing Bikinis on Cairo streets.

  • Wallid jan

    wear a dress but not a haram dress? Allah loves the Egyptian women with hijab

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