Egypt: Bloggers Rally Against Sexual Predators

Date posted: February 13, 2009


Asser Yasser is an Egyptian female blogger who recently moved to Mokattam area with her family. Her maid complained of how she got harassed on the street on her way to or from Asser's home. Her 15 year old niece who lives with them complained of the violating words that she gets bombarded with on her way to and from school. And one day Asser made a horrible mistake and decided to walk to a kiosk 200 meters away from home to buy her children some candy. How dare she walk in the street? How dare she leave her car behind? On her blog [AR], Asser narrated how she was violated:

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.

It got more interesting when the father of the 19-year-old harasser snapped at Asser telling her to pick on someone her age. The father did not see or realize the gravity of what his son did. Now the father, the officers, and many others are begging Asser to drop the charges for the sake of the "poor children's" future. Blogger Enas Lotfy wrote

عزيزتي اسر لا تتنازلي ويجب ان تستمري حتي النهاية لتنالي حقك ولينال الجاني جزاء ما فعله وليعلم اهله انهم فاشلوا في تربية ابنهم ولا تهتمي بالاراء المتخلفه التي تريدك ان تتنازلي وتتراجعي عن موقفك استمري يا عزيزتي وربنا معكي واكيد كلنا معاكي
Dear Asser, Do not give up your right. You have to fight till the end and until the offender gets what he deserves. I want his parents to know that they totally failed in bringing up their son and do not bother with the backward opinions that are trying to force you to back off. We are here for you.

Enas also highlighted other blogs and bloggers that support Asser: Late Night Stories [AR], who told her that she is not the one who will ruin the boy's future as his parents did that long ago. Egypt Watchman [AR], who told her that withdrawing the report is defeat and she should never accept defeat. Osama Abdel Aal [AR], told her to do it for the sake of our mothers and sisters. Mohamed Hamdy [AR], was the first to report the incident and his post was a cry for help addressed to all bloggers. Desert Cat [AR], told her that she has justice on her side. Justice for every one [AR], urged every woman, man and child in Egypt to fight sexual harassment by spreading awareness, changing dark beliefs, and by standing up for their right to a safe secure street. The Presidential Palace [AR], said that we need to stop burying our heads in the sand until we hear another victim scream; we need to finish what we started. Gharam [AR], wondered at the end of her post if one year in prison and a fine of L.E. 200 (less than 50 US$) is enough punishment for a man who terrorized a woman in the street. Fantasia's World [AR], supported Asser and at the end of her post said that even if the harassment victim gave in to pressure and did not go to court, that should not drop the charges. The offender should pay either way. Tartashet Afkar [AR], (random thoughts) also asked Asser to be strong and invited supporters to the Facebook Group created by Mohamed Hamdy Bella [AR], wrote a very angry post accusing the Egyptian society of protecting harassers by giving them the chance to get away with their disgusting acts. Ana Horra [AR], (I am Free) urged bloggers to join hands to make the streets a safe place for us Zeinobia said that those neighbors who did not run to her rescue must remember that their girls and wives can be in the same situation and they will wish that anyone will come to their rescue. Egyptian Fe-mail (me) told her not to give in to pressure for it is our right to walk in the street feeling some sort of security. The harasser and his friends did not think of their futures when they were getting high, when they violated her, or when she begged them to spare someone the age of their mother. Al Nas Wa Al Alam [AR], (People and the World) used an Egyptian proverb to describe what will happen if Asser made peace with her harasser; her silence will invite more harassers and will result in more victims. A New Female [AR], also reported the incident and invited people to another Facebook Group discussing the case and supporting the blogger. Asser's courage inspired Shaimaa Gamaal to share her story:

It has been almost a year on the incident when I was sexually harassed in the safe streets of Cairo. I was out with my cousin when out of no where appeared an old guy, old because I think he is around 50, wearing a suit and looks decent and started showering our ears with dirty sexual comments.

She confronted him:

Every time I remember that moment I get a cold shiver. The guy’s pants were unzipped (imagine the view!) and he was talking dirty. It was scary and I was alone because I left my cousin behind and she was in shock. The crowded streets of Cairo all of a sudden seemed empty and the only sign of help was a speeding car that stopped a 100 meters from where we were. And I started yelling at him. He didn’t move at 1st but when I took a step towards him yelling he started running from me so I started running after him yelling and cursing till he disappeared. I got over that incident and almost forgot it till yesterday when I found [Asser] blogging about a similar incident.

The veil-no-veil argument also kicks in:

There are even people talking about that she deserved it because she isn’t veiled. I am veiled. I don’t wear make up. I don’t wear high heals. I walk like a soldier. I wear a frown to the street and I still got harassed. I didn’t report it because I was never taught to report it … It is always my fault because I was born Egyptian, in a community with a serious identity problem. It is my fault because I am a woman and a genius spread the word the women are just sex toys!

As for Asser, Shaimaa says:

I pray for her to have the peace of mind amidst the pressures around her. I pray for her to get through this tough time. I pray for justice to prevail.

 Jessyz wrote a Four Step Solution to Sexual Harassment:

I think I found the perfect solution to sexual offenders harassers in Egypt. This is a Four step solution to solve the problem. Instead of sending them to jail or making them pay a fine I think when someone is convicted they should: 1- Be tattooed on their forehead with a temporary tattoo that stays for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 1 year depending on their crime. It should say “Sexual Offender” clearly, this should scare most people off. 2- They should also serve community service time such as cleaning the streets, wearing a printed overall that says “Sexual Offender” all over it in very public areas. 3- A second time offender’s ID should include that they are a sexual offender. 4- If the sexual offender commits a third count, then they should be neutered. Seriously too, I think the offender’s parents should also be convicted of the inability to raise a civilized child. Fear of public humiliation might make offenders and possible offenders rethink their actions.

Wandering Scarab offered another solution and wondered if the Rape-aXe could really work.

We've all heard of chastity belts which originated in the medieval era. They were designed to be impenetrable, though I'm not so sure they were invented with rape victims in mind … A similar device was invented in 2000 by South African Jaap Haumann … A sexual offender would instantly lose a chunk of his member … A more simple yet effective device is the Rape-aXe which was designed by Sonette Ehlers, also South African. Rape-aXe is a two fold device [that] can only be removed surgically, whereby hospital staff alert the authorities. Essentially, it could be very useful in the identification and prosecution of rapists.

She concluded her post saying:

After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.

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