Friday December 1st, 2023
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Inside the Mind of a Harasser

A three minute clip of young Egyptian boys explaining why they sexually harass women has made waves in the online world. Conor Sheils speaks to Zeinab Sabet, co-founder of Dignity Without Borders, about creating this awareness campaign...

Staff Writer

A chilling new video reveals the worrying mindset held by Egyptian kids regarding the harassment of women on Cairo's streets. The disturbing three minute clip shows kids under-10 attempting to justify and even encourage harassment against ordinary women. The move comes after Dignity Without Borders co-founder Zeinab Sabet was harassed while standing in the garden of her Dokki office. Instead of ignoring the problem  she decided to tackle her harassers head on by interviewing them about their reasons for the attack. The results were shocking: "I was standing in the garden of my office when this group of kids passed by and started harassing me. What shocked me most was the language that they used one of them, no older than seven said 'Would you come suck my dick or shall I come fuck you myself?' - I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I've been harassed lots in the street before - this is nothing new. In fact, some of the kids even harassed me while I was attempting to interview their peers but the level of vulgarity was really shocking for me. It really made me wonder about the example that their parents and older brothers are setting for these kids."

Speaking about the interview itself - Sabet reveals the unpleasant nature of coming face to face with her attackers. "The interview process itself was uncomfortable but I felt it would be a really worthwhile exercise to challenge their behaviour and make them perhaps questions why they behave in this way towards women." The answers given by the interviewees throughout the video are disturbingly uniform During three minute long YouTube clip,  one child looks dead into the camera and says: "The girls are at fault, the clothes they wear forces people in the street to harass them." Meanwhile another added: "She is the one who approves the behaviour, she is the one who smiles at them."

The comment flies in the face of many terrified girls who will smile at their harassers in the hope of preventing the situation from escalating to a physical attack - or worse. Sabet claims that the childrens' response was difficult to hear. "It was horrifying to see that every child I interviewed agreed that harassment is the fault of the woman." However Sabet plans to carry on fighting the problem which blights the daily life of women across Egypt. "So far we've been working on raising awareness about the problem through social media and video campaigns alongside intervention. We're planning to hold self defense classes for women in the near future  We are also hoping to be given permission to enter Egyptian schools in order to educate kids about this and hope to change attitudes at grassroots level. We have to tackle this problem in any way possible and I believe that if we keep fighting then we can and we will win."
For more information about the Dignity Without Borders campaign click here.