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Great piece from NPR’s “All Things Considered” today on street harassment in Cairo. There were over 1,000 complaints of sexual harassment in Egypt over the past four day Eid celebration. The government promised to investigate, but a group of citizens, including bystanders, male allies, and survivors, banded together with their own creative solution to the street harassment problem. Excerpt, and link to full article, below.
Spraying The Perpetrators
The young vigilantes wear yellow vests as they gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point of last year’s revolution. They carry cans of spray paint, but none is a graffiti artist.
They are part of the new campaign called “Estargel!” or “Be a Man.” Emblazoned on the back of their vests are the words “Harassment Prevention.” The spray paint is used to tag grabby young men and send them on their way, marked as harassers.
One vigilante, Muhab Selim, is lecturing young men gathered nearby on why it’s wrong to harass women.
“I was advising them, telling them about the event, that they shouldn’t try to molest girls,” Selim says. Because “they gave themselves the right to molest the female, we gave ourselves the right to molest him — the molester.”
Selim runs ahead of the other volunteers searching for men on the prowl.
The methods used to combat harassment are not entirely nonviolent. Selim sees a man he thinks has touched a girl. He grabs him and slaps him in the face. A brawl breaks out. One of the volunteers yells to the others not to hit anyone unless they’re sure he harassed a girl.
“If I was walking in the street and I molested a girl and I got beat up and trashed and had my dignity put into a bin,” he says, “I think the next time I’ll think a thousand times before I try to act funny with a girl.”
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