It was a beautiful evening in Doki. My Egyptian friend, Shorouk Elattar, and I were strolling on the sidewalk, looking for a taxi to hire. The road was empty, and from across the street I saw a well-dressed, middle-aged man coming towards us. He said something in Arabic. My friend immediately reacted and shouted back. The man had said, “Your vagina is this big,” gesturing rudely with his hands. I knew that sexual harassment had been epidemic in Egypt for decades, but it was shocking and terrifying to hear such offensive words from a passerby. Shorouk gave me a tired smile, before replying, “This is very common on the streets of Cairo. You are lucky he didn’t harass you physically, which most of us Egyptian woman face in our everyday lives.”
I took these photographs at Borsa where I met the girls. “Borsa” is a favorite street side hang out spot for the people of Cairo. We talked about revolution, politics, lifestyle and discussed about sexual harassment in public places in Egypt. They shared their horrific and painful experiences with me. Some are still carrying the wound inside their mind, silently. Some of them are really trying to ignore it. Every one is similar in one point that they have to keep going without caring the boundaries. They are really, really brave. They allowed me to take their photograph and wrote their experience or wishes in my dairy.
According to UN Women, 99.3% of Egyptian females have suffered sexual harassment in Egypt, while 91.5% have experienced unwelcome physical contact. “It’s better to be silent; if you scream for help or hit back to protest, you will face more problems,” said Alia Ali, a 22 year-old activist, who survived sexual harassment and mob sexual assault in Tahrir Square. “No one will help you; you will even be blamed for the way you dress, even if you wear a hijab. It is always your fault because you are a girl on the street walking alone without any male!”