CAIRO: A recent study conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) found that 48.4 percent of Egyptian and 51.4 percent of foreign women of all ages are subjected to sexual harassment.
Findings also showed that 88 percent of the sample witnessed a harassment incident.
The study titled “Clouds in Egypt’s Sky is part of the ECWR’s “Making our Streets Safer for Everyone campaign. It is a second in-depth study following a smaller pilot study completed in 2006 titled “Harassment: The Social Cancer.
According to the study, 62.4 percent of the male audience surveyed confirmed that they have perpetrated and/or continue to perpetrate one or more forms of harassment
“Creating awareness of the issue is the most important step, Nehad Abu El-Komsan, ECWR Chair told Daily News Egypt.
“If people are aware they will react so there will be pressure and then there will be law, she addedHarassers are not afraid of what they are doing because they are sure there will be no consequences, she said.
Results confirmed that the majority of harassment incidences take place in public places: 69 percent on the streets, 49.1 percent on public transport, 42.4 percent in parks and coffee shops, 29 percent in educational institutions, 19.8 percent on beaches, and 6.2 percent in the workplace.
“The results disprove the belief that sexual harassment is linked to the way women dress [women are sexually harassed when dressed ‘indecently’ or are not veiled – in the words of some participants], since 72.5 percent of victims surveyed were veiled, the study says.
The study also showed that sexual harassment is not class-based: 90 percent are Egyptian women, 78 percent are foreigners, and 59 percent of men reported that the harasser does not distinguish between victims in regards to economic class.
Furthermore, 77.1 percent of foreign and 61.6 percent of Egyptian women agreed that both married and unmarried women are subject to sexual harassment. However 42.3 percent of men disagreed, claiming that unmarried women (typically 19-25 years old) were more vulnerable.
The sample was made up of 2,020 Egyptian participants divided equally between men and women and 109 foreign women living or traveling in Egypt. The study was conducted in the governorates of Cairo, Giza and Qalubiya.
One of the main reasons behind this problem is the absence of a culture of law, Abul Komsan said. If people feared legal punishment, the problem wouldn t have become this big, she added.
The study also found out that 98 percent of foreign women said they had been sexually harassed while in Egypt, 66.1 percent of whom confirmed that this experience had a negative impact on their perception of Egyptian society. Around 7 percent thought that they would not return to Egypt, and 4.6 percent said they would advise their friends not to visit Egypt.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British women to “take extra caution when traveling alone as there have been cases of harassment and sexual assault, including rape.
However, an extremely small percentage of women sought help from police as only 2.4 percent of Egyptian women and 7.5 percent of foreign women reported the crime.
The study showed that male microbus and taxi drivers are the most likely harassers. However, the vast majority of foreign women emphasized that police and security personnel are the most likely to engage in sexual harassment.
The study recommended, drafting a law that clearly defines sexual harassment, criminalizes it, and defines procedures for evidence and proof; the need to raise awareness of the concept of sexual harassment; the need to intensify research on the social, psychological, legal, and economic aspects of sexual harassment; the need to develop training sessions for police on how to deal with the issue of sexual harassment; and the creation of a sexual harassment reporting center.
Abul Komsan announced that a draft law is currently in the pipeline at the National Council for Women.