Near a metro station in Shubra, a man harassed a woman on Wednesday morning. What he did not know was that this woman was Lamya Lotfy, a human rights activist and member of the New Women Foundation. She fought back, both physically and legally, and is now awaiting his summons to Cairo police.
Lotfy was taking a minibus from her home in Bilbase, Sharkia, early on Wednesday. When she got off the bus at the Koliet El-Zeraa Metro station, there was a taxi parked in front of the stairs. As she made her way down toward the train, the taxi driver called after her with the standard bile of street cat-callers.
“Behave yourself,” Lofty scolded the man. “We’re still in the morning.”
This only made the man angry. He began to insult her mother. Then the taxi driver tried to grope her.
Lotfy is not a passive person and reacted by pushing the man back. Then swinging and hitting him with her purse. Then he struck her across the face.
A group of people gathered around her. They joined Lotfy’s microbus driver in consoling her and promising that the driver would apologize.
Lotfy refused to hear any sort of apology, saying instead, “I’m taking him to the police station.” At which point she sat on the bonnet of the taxi and refused to budge.
When the driver became fed up, he threatened Lotfy a third time, now saying he would drive off with her still on the vehicle. At this point she took her phone and called Taher Abul-Nasr, a prominent human rights lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
The taxi driver put his car in gear and Lofty was forced to concede the physical fight. However, accompanied by the minibus driver and Abul-Nasr, she went to the police station to file a complaint.
The police processed the report and Lofty is now waiting for the police to summons the taxi driver to the station.
“These incidents [are] occur[ing] more frequently than ever,” said Lotfy. “A week before my incident there were two girls walking in the street and a boy tried to force himself on one of the girls physically. She tried to defend herself. When she did he grabbed an old man’s cane and hit her with the cane. Civil organisations and NGOs working on [sexual harassment] are trying to collect and gather data on all the incidents that take place. They try to issues statements and reports and to take legal procedures against the perpetrators.”
The Ministry of Interior is not sufficiently doing its job according to Lotfy, adding that her ordeal is by no means an isolated incident, but rather a symptom of the larger disease.
Additional reporting by Sarah El Masry