Almost two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women and believe their victims bring it on themselves when they wear tight and revealing clothes, according to a study released over the weekend by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo.
The study, titled “Clouds in Egypt’s Sky,” was released as part of the group’s “Making our Streets Safer for Everyone” campaign launched in 2006.
Egypt has yet to initiate a serious legal struggle against sexual violence. Some 20,000 rape cases were reported in 2006, according to a report published by the Egyptian National Center for Criminal and Social Research last year.
Half of local and foreign women surveyed were sexually harassed in some way, according to the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights study. Ninety-eight percent of the foreign women, who visited Egypt for tourist, educational and professional reasons, said they experienced sexual harassment during their stay.
Furthermore, 88% of respondents, women and men, had witnessed an incident involving sexual harassment.
Of the Egyptians men surveyed, 62.4% said they had perpetrated and/or “continue to perpetrate” harassment of women.
The sexual harassment committed by Egyptian men included touching without permission, staring, making insulting sexual comments and exposing their genitals to women.
Fifty-three percent of the male respondents said women were to blame for sexual harassment because they enjoyed it and because they dressed in revealing clothing. Most women who were harassed did not file a complaint with the police and most incidents took place in the street, public transportation or tourist sites.
According to the study, most Egyptians believe sexual harassment is a growing problem due to the deteriorating economy, a lack of awareness and the weakening of religious values.
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights was founded in 1996 by six women in Cairo’s Dar el-Salaam neighborhood to provide poor women with legal aid and to promote women’s legal and political rights.
In March, the center launched a “Million Signatures Campaign” in support of strengthened legislation criminalizing sexual harassment.
“The stories we collected from women about their experiences with harassment confirmed our fears that the worsening of this phenomenon has led to psychological effects as well as a decrease in women’s willingness to go into the streets and participate in political and public life,” the center