Sexual harassment may have been criminalized in the country since 2014, however, that doesn’t mean issues of harassment cannot be found on the streets of Egypt. And to reaffirm how harmful unwanted advances can be, one local non-profit organization has launched a large new campaign to tackle sexual harassment in the North African country.
Bassita, a startup that provides a way for charities and campaigns to source funding through users’ clicks on social media, has unveiled a TV campaign that urges women affected to speak up. The organization enlisted Egyptian actors Menna Shalaby and Hany Adel to star in the short video, which shows females subjected to unwanted attention on public transport and on the streets. “Why do we always blame the girl when she gets harassed?” asks Chaos star Shalaby in the clip. “Harassment is a crime. The harasser is a criminal.”
Urging viewers that it is their duty to take action against harassers, Adel adds we should “stand with her, not against her”. “”If you think harassment is not harmful, you are wrong,” the actor asserts in the Bassita campaign. “Harassment is a crime against society; not only against girls.”
According to a report released last year by UN Women and Promundo, 60% of women in the North African country said that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment. In the same poll, 75% of men and 84% of women surveyed said women who “dress provocatively deserve to be harassed,” Al Arabiya reports. Egypt criminalized sexual harassment in 2014, with the nation’s then acting president, Adly Mansour, issuing a decree that offenders could be punished with a minimum of six months in jail, and a fine of 3,000 Egyptian pounds.
“Women should feel safe to freely move, go to work, and not have to suffer while simply just moving around,” Dr Sahar Nasr, International Cooperation Minister, said as the new campaign was announced, according to Cairo Scene. “We’re working with other ministries on this campaign to ensure existing laws on sexual harassment get enforced.”
Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco are other countries in the region that have introduced provisions criminalizing sexual harassment in recent years.