And the unimpeded sexual harassment of women in the Middle East continues unabated…
It’s being reported that a 16 year old Egyptian girl, Eman Mostafa was recently shot dead by a man who was rebuked by the girl (she apparently spat in his face) after he groped her on the street that she was passing by on.
The story which is now only beginning to trickle in once again points to the disparaging attitude amongst the Middle East towards women who many men view as property or second class and worthy of contempt.
The suspect, Ramadan Nasser Salem is now in police custody after having been on the run for over a week. Apprehended by authorities he has gone on to deny the version as offered by witnesses:
“I was riding my motorbike and I saw her. I said hello, and she thought I was harassing her and started cursing at me and spat in my face. I mistakenly fired my gun, and a passer-by told me the bullet hit a wall. We thought the girl was afraid and fell on the ground, but then people told us that the bullet hit her. I never meant to kill her.”
Mistakenly fired his gun? Are we to believe that all this was never a conscious desire to address the rebuke that he had received from the woman?
Reflects Dalia Abd El Hameed, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal rights:
“It’s becoming more violent, and this Assiut incident is a very vivid example of this. He killed her. He killed her just because she defended herself. The mere fact was that she just didn’t accept what’s very accepted in society. When you don’t accept the norm, society punishes you. And he punished her.”
Which begs the question what is the norm and why is a norm that condescends to another human being, gender to be tolerated and embraced by a society that so often cries foul when it perceives itself not being embraced?
According to A 2010 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, 83 percent of Egyptian women have experienced harassment. This in response, has led to advocacy groups pressing the government to tackle the issue.
Reflects the egyptianindependent: Some feel that in the past, perpetrators would flee the scene of the crime out of shame or fear of public backlash, but today’s perpetrators feel no such compunction.
Instead, silence by both the government and the public has enabled a much more virulent strain of abuse to take root.
Says Abd El-Hameed: “What is most disturbing and alarming is that there is a paradigm shift, and sexual harassment now tends more to be assault. It’s more intrusive, it’s more bold, and I think this is the result of immunity and impunity that the perpetrators have from both the society and the police.”
Hoda Badran, chairwoman of the Alliance for Arab Women opines that the recent political and social stability of the last year has been a contributing factor towards women being more vulnerable to violence.
Whilst grass level movements championing women’s right have begun to make headway and received the support of some in society passing motorists at one protest argued that women have brought the problem upon themselves by choosing to dress ‘immodestly.’
Egyptian activists readily acknowledge that the root of the problem is not deficient policy — sexual harassment and assault are already technically illegal — but prevailing social norms that subjugate women and stigmatize those who speak out.
Which poses the ultimate question what is it about society and prevailing norms that allows men (and one wonders women as well?) to unabashedly condemn women and why is it that existing laws as of yet have done very little to stem the sexual harassment that women are increasingly subjected to?
And then there was this exceptionally enlightening insight courtesy of reddit that blew me away:
These men in Egypt harass women not because they are evil, but because their behavior is socially tolerated, accepted, even encouraged. Their social circles view women as mere objects, free of agency, for their enjoyment. Reddit is building a similar network that tolerates, accepts, and encourages the same mindset – that women exist only for your pleasure. When women fail to give you pleasure – because they are fat, or ugly, lesbian, silly, unintelligent, vapid, or uninteresting, or even just plain uninterested – you lash out at them with angry words.
What worries me is that with enough reinforcement from an anonymous crowd like this – armed with the strength of thousands of people, presumably just like you, anonymously agreeing with you – violent words may more easily become actions.
above image found here