Egypt: Anti-harassment campaigns gear up for Eid

Daily News Egypt

Anti-harassment campaigns rally their efforts again to fight sexual harassment during the Eid holiday.

The Be a Man campaign, Egypt’s Girls are a Red Line, the Youth of the Country, the Red Crescent, Start with Yourself and Building Egypt Initiative, are  a few of the campaigns that will be working on the streets to stop sexual harassment in a joint effort.

Shereen Badr, who founded the Be a Man campaign said they will start training the volunteers for three days starting Monday. “Today the training will be held in the Red Crescent’s office and tomorrow, it will be in Cairo University,” Badr is hoping that around 100 will volunteer to help during Eid.

“They will be trained on how to deal with overbearing men and how to stop harassments before they happen,” she added. The campaigns will be active on the second and third days of the Eid holiday, which starts on Friday, meaning the campaigns will be working on Saturday and Sunday next week.

Dina Farid the founder of Egypt’s Girls are a Red Line, said that the training will focus on the reasons there is harassment in our society, how to solve the problem, the types of culprit, how to deal with them,  the language that they can use and how to provide psychological assistance and help to the victim.

Farid said that the point of the event is, “to raise awareness about the issue and to stop harassment.” Many campaigns have been working together in the past few weeks to raise awareness on the issue and prepare for the events that they will be holding during Eid. Downtown Cairo is particularly infamous for sexual harassment during Eid, which is why the As You Condemn, You will be Condemned campaign will be raising awareness there on the third and fourth days of Eid.

Another call to fight the phenomenon uses a different approach. An event on Facebook called, “A call to harass the harasser,” was created this week and is calling on men only to spray paint the shirts of offenders with the words, “I am a harasser.” The group will work in Downtown Cairo.

Badr was not aware of the Facebook group but was not too excited about the idea when she heard its name. She related how in one of the previous events on the street, “there were groups of men who would strip harassers and humiliate them. Our behaviour isn’t violent, we try to prevent harassment and hand the culprit over to the police and get the girl to file a complaint,” she said.

Farid also said that she prefers that the volunteers treat people with dignity, even the harasser. She says that she teaches the volunteers to be friendly because if they treat the people like they’re better than them, no one will listen to them. She added that if a more aggressive tone is used with harassers, things could turn violent and that it is better to distract them instead.

During their events, there’s usually no incidents of harassment, but, “one day on the street is not enough,” Farid said. The media has a very important role to play in magnifying the efforts of these campaigns so that in the long run, there will be an impact, she added.