A new drive to prevent sexual harassment in Egypt

The group has deployed patrols of volunteers on the streets of downtown Cairo to prevent harassment against women during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

A new drive to prevent sexual harassment in Egypt

In an effort to prevent sexual assaults in the Arab world's most populous nation, an Egyptian NGO is deploying volunteers on the Egyptian streets to prevent harassment against women and raise awareness about the phenomenon.

"There is a significant increase in sexual assault cases at the hands of a large number of people using white weapons," Abdelfattah Mahmoud, 23, a co-founder of "Imprint" movement, told Anadolu Agency.

The group has deployed patrols of volunteers on the streets of downtown Cairo to prevent harassment against women during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Ahead of the festival, which started on Tuesday, volunteers spent three days in communicating street venders and police stations in downtown Cairo to engage them against harassment.

"Winning the street confidence is very important for us; it cuts the distance really short for our mission,” Mahmoud says.

To render their mission a success, volunteers have been equipped with necessary tools to prevent anti-women harassment.

They are using mobile lighting bulbs to spot cases of harassment, particularly in dark street corners. Leaders of patrols are also communicating through walkie talkies for a swift intervention at distant points.

Despite some provocation from some residents, the NGO has managed to build bridges with people.

"People provoke us; make fun of us while others encourage us by words and others interfere to help us," Hahmoud says.

"No matter how hard it gets, we always try to be self-disciplined."

Imprint volunteers have managed to report 33 harassment cases in Talaat Harb Street in downtown Cairo.

Awareness

Imprint founders say that their efforts are not a replacement of the police role in preventing harassment on Egyptian streets.

"We aren’t taking over policemen role," co-founder Hassan Nassar told AA.

"Instead, we activate our roles as public citizens in fighting crimes through our different partnerships with NGOs, starting up initiatives, and most importantly with the MOI [Ministry of Interior,” he said.

Nassar cited that his group has teamed up with the department of crimes against women at the interior ministry, police stations in downtown Cairo, and anti-harassment NGOs with the aim of reporting harassers.

Volunteers have also been given orientation sessions to avert any violent acts against harassers.

Imprint volunteers are also engaged in efforts to raise awareness among passers-by about sexual harassment, its harmful impact on the society and give them tips about how to prevent it.

"People are aware of the issue but they do not fully understand their role in overcoming it," Amira Al-Mallah, an awareness team member, told AA.

"We take part in this as our responsibility to guide them with tips, but there are other variables that interfere (with the effort) such as education, media," she said.

Agitated by the increasing number of harassers on the streets and the absence of law enforcement, the volunteers hope to achieve a ground-based impact.

"We do our best to prevent harassment before it happens," Ahmed Samir, one of the volunteers, told AA.

"However, I encourage people to take positive actions when they see such acts on the streets."

AA

Last Mod: 18 Ekim 2013, 17:42
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