Egyptian women take self-defense classes to confront sexual harassment


Many Egyptian women are resorting to self-defense classes to confront the country’s growing phenomenon of sexual harassment.

The free classes are organized by the group Tahrir Bodyguards.

The aim is to combat “systematic political suppression against women,” activist Jumana Shehata told Al Arabiya. “We’ll continue to take to the streets of Tahrir, no matter the price.”

Salafist preacher Ahmad Mahmoud Abdullah, known as Abu Islam, has said women protesting in Tahrir Square are “no red line,” because they have no shame and want to be raped.

In light of the vast political and social changes taking place in Egypt, more light is being shed on sexual harassment on the streets of Cairo.

It is not uncommon for women to report verbal or physical abuse in broad daylight.

However, after the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, this problem has become even more apparent, and several NGOs have reported on its severity.

At the start of the revolution, Amnesty International detailed an incident where women protesting in Tahrir Square against the government were taken by the army and examined to see whether they were virgins.

Sexual harassment is not new in Egyptian society, but its increase has raised many questions, said Duriya Sharfeddine, a member of the National Council for Women.

“The systematic harassment…at protests must have a scheme behind it,” Sharfeddine told Al Arabiya.

At least 25 female protesters were subjected to sexual harassment in Tahrir Square during demonstrations held earlier this month to mark the second anniversary of the revolution.