Saturday, June 04, 2011

are there any MEN in Egypt?

Cairo nights have really changed since before the revolution. I used to always say i felt safer walking in the street here at night than I would have done in UK... but that, unfortunatly, is no longer the case.

I dont know what has caused it. The realisation that people can 'get want they want' if they go for it on mass? (often the abuse comes from groups of young boys). Maybe because there are far less police on the streets so people know they can get away with crimes? or perhaps its just down to boredom? since Cairo shuts down eary these days with restaurants and bars closing before midnight. Shops which used to be open til the last customers went home, now pull down their new post-revolution shutters around a time when Cairians used to start their shopping for an evening!

The comments have increased... and although i have become thick skinned towards the various phrases that get thrown at women (Egyptian girls too- not just foreigners...) , the number of boys trying to touch also seems increased. In the last week i have had a stone thrown at me, hundreds of comments, one grope ( a child under 10) and two attempted gropes (both teenagers who regreted it since my reactions seemed to have speeded up and will have a bruise to remind them of their actions for a day or two...)

Why walk about at night then you might ask...? fair question i guess... except that the latest attempted grope happened at 5.30pm whilst walking from my house to get a taxi! It makes no difference at all. I am so tired of it. I wish .... oh , so many violent things. I hate what this constant bombardment of abuse is turning me into.

So if any Egyptians are reading this...please
- women- educate your brothers, sons (rather than giggling when your habibi, who you are sittting on that bench on the corniche, throws a comment out at me and you giggle rather than berating him!)

 men- likewise educate yourselves and those around you.... It is NOT the way forward to make yourselves stronger by putting others down. Even if the most beautiful woman in the world walks by you- THERE IS NO NEED TO COMMENT. I'll repeat that- THERE IS NO NEED TO COMMENT! You may think its a compliment, that you are being 'nice' but any comment which is not asked for is UNWANTED. Oh and be careful welcoming woman walking alone to Egypt. The tone of your voice can turn a beautiful, caring sentiment into an intrusive, frightening attack. It is amazing how sleazy the phrase 'Welcome to Egypt' can be!  Bite your tongue. Say nothing. PLEASE!

Prove to me you can BE A MAN- that you know when silence is the biggest compliment- that it shows to me you can respect and care for my feelings.

Prove to me you can BE A MAN, and speak up, when others in the streets throw stones, words and hands out at women.

Dont prove it to me..... prove it to yourself!

I have spoken with many 'men' here about this... and their instant response is - 'but of course they comment- you are beautiful'. This is as insulting as the comments. It implies that men have a right to impose their thoughts/hands on me just because of my looks? These same 'men' who consider themselves educated, westernised, caring, above such things are the ones who completely ignore comments hurled at you by idiots when you walk with them in the street, ushering you quickly into 'somewhere safe' instead. Instead they should be defending you and defending the dignity of all Egyptians. BE A MAN.

Stand up men..... you dont want to live in a world of mice and men haters... yet this is what women turn into when suppressed and abused through generations.....

Speak out... to the abusers... not to the victims. BE A MAN.

I LOVE Egypt... I have lived here for over 5 years. i want to continue living here... The animalistic attitudes of the 'men' here towards women is the number one reason why I would ever consider leaving.


Rags said...

Alas your observations and experiences are all too true. There is a real need to change our manners and attitudes as Egyptian men across the whole social spectrum. This is a daunting task which needs to start at home and in the schools. There is an all too pervasive attitude towards women as whole not just Egyptian which also needs to be addressed. Having said the above please do not give up on Egypt I am sure that one day in the not too distant future it will do you proud.

Joanne said...

It's all about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. when it comes down to it! A real man shows respect for women (and men, too).

Sarannah said...

Well said, Lorna.
Up here in Luxor the men cannot concieve of a woman being happy on her own without a man and can be very persistant in trying to redress this problem for us!!!

M.Zahran said...

In fact I'm ashamed, denying all these brutal actions towards women. The whole case is about ignorance, people here don't know how to treat each other, everyone thinks that he has the right to do whatever he likes no matter how it can affects on others life. So I have to apologize about what you've gone through, and I wish we can have a peaceful way of life.

Noor al Sabah said...

Dear Lorna, everything that you say in this post is not new. I suffer this attacs since 2 years and half I'm living in Egypt. Before the revolution they are scared from the brutality of police, and police was workin to protect to you if somebody disturb to you in streets (even the same police was flirting with you. They are men and egyptians too). The problem now is the people now is not scared as before from the police and the police don't wants to work, so the young boys can do things that before was forbiden.
I agree with you in one thing, women have to educate the children (all of them) in respect, not in repression. Is not posible to fight for freedom if you don't know what means respect and responsability. Egypt needs a lot of time to change because they must to change his minds. Loooon way.... Thank you for your post.