Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment: Working to make Tahrir a safe space for all

Egypt Independent Op-Ed about sexual assault in Tahrir on the second anniversary of January 25 and how Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (follow on Twitter @OpAntiSH) is trying to help.


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Mona Eltahawy’s article “Why do they hate us?” in FP and responses

Mona Eltahawy published an article about Arab misogyny in Foreign Policy yesterday which has definitely ruffled some feathers. I agree with her call for ending the cultural relativism and acknowledging all the political, structural and social barriers facing gender equality in many Arab countries but framework of “hate” is not the most useful approach and I  think the photos accompanying the article are really distasteful (not to mention totally unimaginative).  Check out some responses from other bloggers below…

Here’s Eltahawy’s article: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/23/why_do_they_hate_us

Responses from other bloggers:

Mona Kareem


Samia Errazzouki


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Aliaa Dawood on the current backlash against women’s rights and personal status law reform

Meant to post this when it came out, but here is Aliaa Dawood’s op-ed in Al Masry Al Youm on November 8, 2011 about how backlash against the recent personal status law reform was inevitable. Unfortunately, changes to women’s personal status (like gaining the right to divorce without proving fault known as khola3 and extending the age of child custody to 15) are being identified with former first lady Suzanne Mubarak, who was the head of the previous National Council for Women and Children.

It seems that activists and lawyers pushing for these changes behind the scenes probably needed Mubarak’s support to pass the legislation, because it was an actual viable channel for reform. Despite this, I’m sure many of those same activists had serious issues with the Egyptian government and Mrs. Mubarak’s stamp on all legislation related to women and children.

Aliaa Dawood is a professor of mass communications at AUC and she presented on feminism in Egypt at the AUC Social Justice Conference in May 2011.

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Quick recap: June 20 Blog/tweet against sexual harassment day

Lots of action yesterday during the blog/tweetathon against sexual harassment!

Harassmap collected blog posts here  (there are almost 150!)

It was heartening to see all the participation and I’m hoping all this energy will be directed toward other future efforts. I’ve collected some tweets that seems to capture some of the sentiments that were repeatedly expressed on June 20th:

frustration and debunking “justifications” for harassment

ghazalairshad: I want the right to walk where I want, whenever I want–whether inhijab or not. #endSH #Egypt @harassmap

ghazalairshad: Egyptian police/army officers should be the ones *protecting* me from street harassers, not the ones harassing me! #endSH #Egypt@harassmap

nourikam: #EndSH It really has nothing to do with what you wear. I walk the street in quite conservative, loose clothes. we need an attitudechange.

nadyashanab: what a woman wears should not be an excuse for sexual harassment of any kind – if u dont like what u see look in the otherdirection #endSH

ending victim-blaming

nawarabelal: No matter who is being harassed its not her\his fault #EndSH

LeilZahra: Women are not victims, they are not responsible, nor guilty. Focus should be on strong & decisive response to harassers. #endSH

fighting for equal rights and treatment

DinaSabet: Until men begin to view women as their equals, rather than objects, sexual harassment will persist in #Egypt. #endSH.

MAswad: The debate of masculinity vs. femininity is so freaking outdated. Now there is something called HUMAN. Period. #GetOverIt #EndSH

3awadalla : Why do we want to end sexual harassment and violence?Because we want to dignity and safety for all Egyptians! #EndSH

NadaAbdElAziem: I got the right to walk down the streets w/out being harassed or offended & so do u!! So, I’m defending that right & so should u!! #endSH

calls to action

Gsquare86: We need anti- sexual harassment #graffiti on Egyptian streets #endSH cc: @ganzeer

joellehatem: The absence of a law criminalizing sexual harassment encourages such behavior http://bit.ly/lCRGwT #endSH #Lebanon

LaSoubrette: Take action , get involved lets cause a fuss ! talk to others , report your harasser make it know that its unacceptable #EndSH

3aasy: two, men MUST stand up to other men who SH, ESP in the street & amongst their friends: men need to say NO, men need to STOP! #endSH #Egypt

Izbella: We need serious laws with swift implementationagainst the crime #endSH

beyond Egypt 

Elhwwary: sexual harassment is a global phenomenon,not exclusive for Egypt#Endsh

Any particular tweets that felt were especially powerful? Feel free to send them my way!

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Blog and tweet about ending sexual harassment and gender violence today!

Today is Blogging & Tweeting Day Against Sexual Harassment & Gender Violence in Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria. Official hastag is #EndSH

Really seems to be an outpouring of thoughts and support online – the hope is to direct this energy into changing the rampant harassment that we face every day. Nazra for Feminist Studies and HarassMap are holding a joint meeting to discuss what comes after this day of blogging/tweeting/sharing. Tues, June 21, 44 Talaat Harb St. , Cairo

Hit it on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=170454286351470

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June 2 Meeting – Pathways for Women in Democratic Transitions

Bachelet is back! I guess she really likes Egypt.  Pathways Middle East Hub is co-hosting this UN Women roundtable on June 2 in Cairo aimed at discussing how we can bring gender justice to this period of democratic transition in Egypt. Lots of speakers who have worked in government and on political participation in Egypt and abroad (especially Latin America), including a keynote from UN Women director Michele Bachelet. Hania Sholkamy and Mariz Tadros from Pathways will be discussing building strong women’s movements.

Feel free to email me for the draft agenda and registration form at khallez@aucegypt.edu

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Gender justice and making the law work for women – materials available

Materials (papers and presentations) are now available online from the 18th Annual AUC Research Conference whose focus this year was “Social Justice: Theory, Research and Practice”.  The conference was very timely, considering all the recent political and social change in Egypt, and was even more successful than past AUC research conferences. I highly recommend checking out the keynote speech by Mahmood Mamdani.

Additionally, Pathways researchers put together a panel called Gender Justice and Making the Law Work for Women, chaired by Hania Sholkamy, which contained the following presentations:

  1. The Social relations of social protection: Gendering the welfare regime (Hania Sholkamy)
  2. Informal work and social justice: Including the poor in Egypt’s democratic transition (Heba Gowayed, Mahmoud Hazzaa)
  3. The Limits of law: Reforming Egyptian family laws and the question of gender justice (Mulki Al-Sharmani)
  4. Political power and women’s quotas in Egypt (Sawsan el Sherif)
Again, all of the presentations are available on the AUC research conference website linked above. 
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