Egypt Watch

Egyptian women resorts to social media instead of the judiciary in facing harassment

Egyptian women who are victims of harassment and sexual violence have resorted to social media platforms as an alternative to exposing what happened to them. This step came after they lost the ability to hold the violators accountable due to the closure of the ways to account for sexual harassers and the selective application of the law.

The Guardian highlighted that several activists in defense of women’s rights had established accounts on social media platforms, to confront harassers, especially from the elite who usually flee from punishment. A wave of anger has recently escalated, targeting the culture of rape and sexual violence, with victims and survivors trying to expose the violators. Several accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter, and other social media, collect testimonies from victims and survivors in an attempt to uncover the attackers, including the “Harassers of Cairo” account, which is run by an activist called “Ahmed” and runs his campaign from Canada. The account manager pointed out that “the only way to confront this issue (harassment and sexual violence) at present is through social media.” He added, “There is corruption. If your father were rich and influential, you would easily escape, and the Internet is the only way now.”

For her part, Mozn Hassan, the founder of Nazra for Feminist Studies, said, “It is clear that the state and society say that there are good women who must be protected from a patriarchal perspective, and there are bad women, such as Tik Tok women.” She cited examples of the authorities arresting feminist activists, targeting NGOs such as Nazra, and personally preventing her from traveling. Mozn said that the social media pages use the Internet instead of the civil society that the Egyptian state has targeted. She added, “There is no space in Egypt, it is closed, and you do not have non-governmental organizations, no places to gather, no policy for communication and dialogue with people. “Thus, social media and communication platforms have become an alternative to public space,” she concludes.

Advocates for victims of harassment and feminist activists say that Egyptian law provides only a limited refuge in matters related to harassment and sexual attacks, and perpetrators do not face social repercussions.

The Egyptian regime announced preparing a draft law to allow survivors of sexual harassment to hide the identity of survivors of sexual harassment in court and to present testimony to the Public Prosecutor’s office online (over the Internet). However, Observers say that it is still a long way to go before survivors feel comfortable before informing the police about what happened to them or seeing the defendants before the courts.

Women in Cairo are subjected to daily harassment, especially in light of the deteriorating economic conditions. High unemployment rates mean fewer opportunities for women to gain financial independence and large numbers of frustrated and unemployed men, especially the youth. Moreover, this economic poverty also means that the country’s health services have worsened, and all of them are matters that increase this phenomenon.

Social media activists stress the importance of tightening the punishment for harassers and applying it firmly. Before that, they call for reforming the problem from its roots, represented by the absence of culture.