The definite variable

Dear reader, let me start my article by listing a couple of events that are considered everyday news in Egypt. The first is a report a couple of students filed against a collage professor whom they accuse of repeatedly touching them and making inappropriate sexual comments. 

The second is an investigation that has been launched after a women accused a bus driver of sexually harassing her by winking and making inappropriate sexual gestures after intentionality pulling up next to her in traffic.

If you’re living in Egypt or have been reading about what life is like for girls in the Egyptian streets, those events may sound familiar… EXCEPT they’re not!!

The first incident occurred at the university of California and the students’ names are Kathleen Gutierrez and Erin Bennett. The second ill-mannered behavior was exhibited by a London bus driver!

What I’m trying to do is highlight the fact that sexual harassment is a crime and crimes happen everywhere. What’s widely variable is how a particular society responds to such an evil.

In countries where discrimination based on gender is not an epidemic, the harasser is held accountable for his disgraceful acts. Meanwhile, in Egypt,the society is full of sexists who usually blame the girl and try to bully her into giving up on her rights!

An example of that is what happened to my friend in a microbus that she was riding home after college. A guy in the seat behind her placed his filthy hands below her as she was getting seated. My friend screamed and asked for help but the harasser denied his act and shamelessly defended himself by saying:

و انا هبصلك علي ايه يا تخينه يا فشله!
He was saying that she was too fat for him to find her attractive.

The real problem is that half the people in the microbus supported him in what he said and started laughing and taking turns offending my friend while the other half remained silent or supported her very timidly. Finally the bus driver decided to kick my friend out because she was causing trouble in his apparently utopian bus!

To summarize, I think that crimes happen everywhere and they have nothing to do with one’s cultural background. However, the society’s response to such acts is absolutely determined by its culture and ethics. That, my friend, is the definite variable!

By Shaimaa Maged
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