“I Saw Harassment”, the independent initiative countering sexual harassment of women in Egypt, announced Monday its plan to stand in the face of the crime during the upcoming Eid El-Fitr celebrations.
Under the slogan of “Warriors against harassment, for the security of women and girls in Egypt”, the initiative said its volunteer teams will cover six areas in downtown Cairo and nearby areas of Kasr El-Nile and Abdul Moneim Riyad streets. It also called on and encouraged women to go out and enjoy themselves fearlessly.
“Sexual harassment crimes increase during vacations and public celebrations, which makes the current situation dangerous for women, in desperate need of having safe streets and decent lives that would safeguard their participation in the public sphere,” the initiative said.
The initiative stated that it selected those areas because, according to their field work during Eid celebrations since 2012, they have found them to be “infected with sexual harassment crimes”.
Moreover, the initiative stressed its rejection of all forms of violence, vowing to respect human rights’ standards when dealing with perpetrators of sexual violence crimes. The initiative aims at providing women and girls in the streets a sense of security, as well as to disseminate a culture of gender equality, as the only means to end violence against women.
Due to its work in the field, “I Saw Harassment” has established contacts with the Ministry of Interior to coordinate with the police. It still hopes for more on the ministry’s side, including enabling women to file police reports at the location of the incident, instead of having to catch and drag offenders all the way to the police station.
While the initiative stated “women’s rights in avoiding social embarrassment” as a justification to their demand, on several occasions victims cannot stop criminals, as it could be a group crime or a hit-and-run.
It was observed during the previous public holiday, Sham El-Nessim in April, that the ministry pushed male security conscripts into the streets, while the role of police women was nearly non-existent.
“We call on the ministry to provide policewomen all day in vital areas such as parks and in front of movie theatres, and we also demand those female officers to contribute to crime prevention,” the initiative said.
The initiative has an interactive social media account on Facebook and several hotline numbers, where they urged all victims of sexual violence to report cases immediately. “I saw Harassment” called on the media to maintain ethical standards in protecting the identities and privacy of sexual violence victims in their coverage.
The initiative conducts regular awareness campaigns at random moments and claims that public interaction with its members has improved over the years, from both genders.
In the last big religious celebration, Eid Al-Adha, which took place in October last year, the group reported a total of 147 cases of verbal harassment in downtown Cairo and surrounding areas, 18 physical assaults and five group assaults on women. Nearly a year ago, on the previous Eid El-Fitr, the initiative said it interfered and successfully solved 35 cases of sexual harassment.