That winter night I was sitting in a cafe in Arakan mall at the same table that I always use when I need privacy and silence to work properly on something important. The inside of the cafe was warm enough to keep my energy up and the waiter knew that he must keep me supplied with enough coffee to focus on my work.
I was working on a study requested by a kind woman I met just two days before in a job interview. We had a nice meeting after which she sent me a request to do a study on her organization’s digital presence and how could we improve it. It was an organization called “HarassMap”, which was devoted to creating a safer environment without harassment in Egypt.
For this project I was responsible for researching the history of sexual harassment in Egypt. I went through HarassMap’s website reading testimonials by women who had experienced harassment and I watched every video of women telling their stories about the first time they endured such treatment and how it made them feel.
After four hours of research and writing, I was worn out. I knew that sexual harassment existed in Egypt but I never thought that it was an epidemic — 99% of women in Egypt have been harassed. I never knew that when a girl is harassed, it affects her personality and daily activities. Going from one place to another becomes complicated and painful. Some women feel like they have to plan what to wear every day in order to get less harassment so that they can concentrate on their work. Girls are not responsible for harassment, harassers are.
I will never forget the screams of a girl being assaulted by a group of men inside Sadat metro station. This was the sound of real fear and pain. That day I went home hating everything in my life. I hated the men and how they acted as if no one could stop them or blame them for what they were doing.
From that day on, I decided to fight sexual harassment all over the world. I no longer work at Harassmap because I traveled out of Egypt but I am still loyal to this organization and to the cause of fighting sexual harassment because that is what we all should do.