Monday, June 20, 2011

End Sexual Harassment (for a better Egypt)

I was walking down a Cairo street, like I usually do, trying to reach my destination.
I try to control my anger, I try to hold back the tears.
Like I usually do.

I try to block the words they say and the looks they give...the sounds they make..
Like they usually do.

"I want to have my penis inside you"
"Look at that ass"
"You have such luscious boobs/lips"

And the dirty, dirty looks on their dirty, dirty looking faces and they make me want to slap them. But I keep the rage within me.
Like I usually do.

I want to complain, I want to explain to people how demeaning and degrading that feels, how it generates so much negative energy within me. Such disdain.

It makes me forget all the good things I know about myself, that I am a smart young woman, that I am a respectable and respected young woman. That I am a lot better than those sleazy men. And if anything, yes, I should look down on them rather than be objectified by them.


I was driving back home, with my cousin, again, like I usually do. It's one of the narrower streets, barely two lanes wide.

Him and his friend decide it would be fun if they drive next to us in their big SUV and swerve their car closer to ours on the small street. I try not to panic, and not to look to my right. I turn the music up so I don't hear what they're saying; infuriating. They've been following us for a while, and I sense it's becoming more dangerous.

I change routes and they're still following us.
I enter my grandmother's building's garage. Stay in there for a while, as I cautiously make my way out, they were gone.

I am lucky. To have never been touched by such sordid beings, to have never had an encounter per se and for that I am thankful. But this doesn't mean it has never happened, because it has. It has happened and it has happened a lot. All forms of sexual harassment, even veiled girls get harassed. (so it's never about what you were wearing) and it happens all day (it's not about you staying out late)

I don't know why it happens, but I know that it should end.
I should be able to walk down the street knowing that I am worth much, much more than to be objectified, and than to be forced to bear with it because if I take it to the police station, I will get harassed, again, by the police officer.   

16 comments:

sfd said...

Dear Sara, I have never experienced anything like this so I won't pretend I know what it's like for you. I can only imagine how hurtful and horrible this must be for you and any woman who ever had to put up with this horrid behaviour.

My guess is that majority of men over there are not like this and that it's a small minority who behaves like this which should bring hope that these horrible men will be more and more outnumbered by all the decent ones over time.

I'm sending you lots of hugs from over here and pray that change will happen soon and that things will get better.

Veronika (http://www.constantworkinprogress.com)

Suz said...

Unacceptable. Stay strong Sara and know what you really are and not what they make you feel like with their terrible words and actions. I know change will happen! There will always be creeps and jerks, but you shouldn't have to put up with that crap. Hugs!

Ratz said...

Oh dear dear Sara. I understand what this brings onto us, what it makes us feel. It has happened to me and it is infuriating like you said. This is present everywhere and it really does not matter what we wear for men like these. These are sadists, who could continue to live like pests without ever knowing about it. I am sending you lots of love and strength and though it does not suffice, I just want you to know that you are not alone. We are with you.

Farah said...

hello there dear..what i am about to say next might be offensive to some people so if you decide to remove this comment I dont mind..

This is what I think:

This issue of objectifying women happens in predominantly Islamic countries. Although in the Quran and Hadith, women are given a higher standing as a Mother and Wife, most religious scholars have somehow warped this simple fact in such a way that women are now seen as merely objects. I truly believe that religious scholars manipulate religions to suit their needs and their moments of glory, and this applies to all religions mind you. Dont get the wrong idea that I am a non-believer, I am a Muslim but how good a Muslim only God can judge me on that and no one else.

These objectifying of women escalates when the people who are supposed to protect do it unabashedly as well. These kinds of things do happen in Malaysia and when I visited Pakistan, I experienced it there as well. Maybe what I think can be said as a gross generalization, but it can also be food for thought.

Shokoofeh said...

Dear, I think we women in middle east all know what you're talking about. It could be more or less in each country but we all have felt the anger coming from sexual harassment. You know Sara it has very deep roots in our countries' backgrounds. The way they banned people, the way they limit the freedom. These all make compulsion or obsession in people...
I can't really say I believe that these all will get fade very soon, by changing governments or things like that. It's not really hopeful to say but I think it takes decades and decades to vanish all these habits from the cultures.

Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

Unfortunately I know what you mean by all of this. The anger and frustrationg is felt, heard, read, and shared. One day, maybe it'll be less than today...not saying it's going to be tomorrow or next month or next year. Nobody knows.

Be strong girl.

And it's quite funny...I don't believe in this only happening in the middle Eastern/Islamic world. It happens everywhere, to different degrees and in different form, but it does. We may not even know this. Maybe better this way.

Loved this post by the way!!!!

Kristin said...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with that! There is no excuse for that kind of behavior!

Polyvorina said...

All of this is sad, and yes, enraging. I feel your anger all the way here, in Canada. - where things are no different. It's something women world-wide have to endure unfortunately. But I'm glad you speak out and that others do as well - maybe one day we will make a difference! And kudos to you for knowing your worth despite all of this.

Nikolett said...

Situations like that are unforgiveable and inexcusable. While I haven't suffered any aggression or harrassment as extreme as you have, it's something that happens all over the world and I'm so sorry you have been affected by it. It definitely should end, and hopefully as more of us woman stand up for this, the less it will happen, though I know it's not that simple or easy.

tywo said...

Oh Sara, I am glad you are safe, and sorry this happened to you. This is very much like Nigeria. You have guys screaming dirty words as you walk down some streets. I hope it changes soon.
It is very sad that one has to feel so unsafe in her own land. May God help our countries.
I love you.

P.s...Your story about you and your bf made me day!


LOVE!

Bianca said...

I have to admit barely understanding Arabic made life a whole lot easier for me... Selective perception can be such a great good..

iris loves said...

As they have said it's something women world-wide have to endure unfortunately. As you, I'm lucky too, but I've lived that words too, even if it's much difficult in your country I guess, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist in here, too, especially by some ignorant (I'm sorry but that's their word) + unrespectful men.
Ignorance makes them say so many things they maybe cannot imagine how much it hurts.
I have felt that anger many times too, wanted to go back and tell them so many things... have walked down the street instead.

Love you Sara.
<3

tywo said...

I wish you a wonderful week, Sara.


LOVE!

Taylor said...

You're such a strong spirit, and you will stay strong. Men like that are so disgusting....

The Childlike Empress said...

sometimes i'm glad that i dont understand what they say, sometimes i also think that its safer that i dont know the language so i cannot reply as i think i would get myself into a lot of trouble

This sounds bad, but i feel a bit better knowing that they dont only act that way around foreigners.

Its also hard for me at times when the women also look at me badly or disrespect me....i feel like they at least should be on my side.

tywo said...

Sara dear, have a good weekend!


LOVE!