Egypt’s #MeToo Activists See Progress, but ‘the Road Ahead Is Long’

Egypt’s #MeToo Activists See Progress, but ‘the Road Ahead Is Long’
Egyptian girls at a rally in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 25, 2012 (AP photo by Maya Alleruzzo).

CAIRO—With hundreds of women flooding social media in recent months with accusations of sexual harassment and assault, a growing #MeToo movement is taking Egypt by storm. Their online testimonials have garnered massive public support and prompted reforms to the country’s sexual harassment laws, like granting anonymity to victims and witnesses in sexual assault cases. More broadly, they are challenging the culture of victim-blaming that is often associated with sexual harassment and assault in Egypt.

Activists are hoping to build on this momentum in a country where gender-based violence has become all too common. After the Arab Spring protests in 2011 again brought the issue of sexual harassment to light, a United Nations survey in 2013 found that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment, while 96.5 percent said they had experienced sexual harassment in the form of touching.

“No woman is immune,” says Marian Bahader, an Egyptian woman who’s long been vocal about sexual harassment both online and in her community. “Half of the population is seriously suffering. That’s why this movement is so important.”

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