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Egypt: April 18 Declared Anti-Harassment Day

A Facebook campaign calling for a silent demonstration on April 18 against the harassment of women and girls in Egypt is slowly gathering momentum. The call for allowing Egyptian women to move around in safety in their country, was sparked after blogger Asser Yasser‘s harassers were acquitted.

In her own blog, Asser [Ar] describes what happened to her as follows:

Asser Yasser is an Egyptian female blogger who recently moved to Mokattam area with her family. On her way home, some teenagers in parked cars that reeked of hash used cuss words, followed her, tried to grab her, encircled her with their vehicles, and the poor woman and her niece felt trapped. People looked from their balconies and no one lifted a finger to help her. She called the police from her mobile phone as she stood there in utter terror and shortly after officer Mohab came to her rescue. He was almost run down by the fleeing cars. One guy stayed behind and said that he was not involved and that he was only watching from his car. Asser identified him as one of the harassers and they all went to the station to file a formal report.

In court, the 19-year old harasser was acquitted and Asser decided not to give up; Mohamed Hamdy wrote:

تقول أسر بعدما حصل من تحرش بى على البراءه وجدت أن القانون به العديد من الثغرات , واملنا الوحيد فى الموافقة على القانون المطروح فى مجلس الشعب للتصويت لمواجهة ظاهرة التحرش , ووجدت أنه يجب أن يعرف السادة الأعضاء ان القانون مطلب جماهيرى من كل سيدات وبنات مصر وكل الرجال المحترمين فى مصر ايضا
Asser says: “After the acquittal of my harasser I realized that the law is full of loopholes and our only hope is to call for an anti-harassment law and that the members of the Egyptian Parliament realize that this is a unanimous call from all Egyptian women and decent men.”

The proposed slogans for the campaign include:

مش هسيب حقى
أنا ضحية مش جانى
I shall not give my lawful rights; I am the victim not the assailant.

Bloggers were quick to lend their voices to the campaign:

River Nael suggested ink stamps to shame and name harassers:

Having said that, and in light of the growing rates of sexual harassment in Egyptian society, one can devise a remedy that takes advantage of that preoccupation with one's image in the eyes of the community. [...] That could be effectively done by stamping sexual harassers on their face with an ink that leaves no permanent marks, quite similar to the blue ink in which voters dip their fingers to avoid double voting. The effect of that ink could last for days or weeks, depending on technical feasibility and the judgment of legislators. It is reasonable to believe that, technically speaking, the mass production of that ink at low costs is not impossible.

To avoid defamation in the eyes of neighbors, work colleagues, relatives and the society at large, stamped harassers may well choose to stay at home until the effect of the ink withers away. This could be a very powerful deterrent.

The Facebook group has so far attracted 573 members.

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