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IN PICTURES: Breaking the silence, campaign fights sexual harassment in Egypt

Shounaz Meky

Published: Updated:

In a series of captivating pictures, showing women in Egypt subjected to harassment in various forms, a new photo session has been released to point fingers at the society’s silent bystanders of sexual harassment.

Under the name “Your silence is a harassment,” the campaign ran a series of images reflecting occasions in which women are being sexually harassed.

“The reason does not lie in my clothes or looks, it isn’t because of my existence in the society, your silence can be the reason...your silence is a harassment,” read the description on the Facebook photo album published Saturday.

Al Arabiya English spoke to Marwa Ragheb, the project’s team photographer, who said the project targets the society's silence towards sexual harassment, and asks for how long will women continue to be blamed for it.

“In all forms of harassment, women are the ones who are blamed. They are even blamed when they react or try to defend themselves,” she said.

Ragheb and her team, which consists of actors, actresses and a director, are interested in projects that tackle women issues. They worked together on a project about violence against women last year.

Being at the marketplace, at work, or even on public transportation, the illustrative scenes showed how even women dressed modestly, wearing the Islamic headscarf at times and unveiled at others, are subjected to harassment.

“In one of our pictures, a veiled girl is about to take off her scarf in reaction to being called ‘the reason behind harassment’ because of ‘whats she wearing’ or ‘coming home late.’ She hopelessly puts her hand on her scarf in a bid to remove it, not knowing what to do to please her surrounding.”

One picture shows how ‘male gazes’ target a woman who happens to be walking on street with her partner passing by a coffeeshop. Another picture showed how women are always meant to have low or husky voices in line with their “femininity.”

Men witnessing a harassment had their mouths covered with tape in the photo session.

“Women are constantly reminded of lowering their voices, meanwhile men, who are supposed to provide protection, don’t stand up or speak for us.”

Ragheb said that many reacted positively to the pictures, while some said "this does it happen too often" or that the pictures are an "overreaction."