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Sexual Harassment in Egypt

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Class Struggle, State Oppression, and Women’s Empowerment

image of Hawwa

Although sexual harassment is a worldwide phenomenon, the contemporary case of sexual harassment in Egypt is noteworthy, as the nation only recently occupied a top position on the map of sexual harassment on a world scale. In November 2013, Egypt was declared by the Thomson Reuters Foundation as the worst country for women to live in within the Arab World when compared to twenty-two other Arab countries, largely as a result of its female sexual harassment rates.1 Similarly, and on a more international scale, the United Nations Population Fund declared Egypt as ranking “second in the world after Afghanistan in terms of this issue.”2 In the years following the 2011 revolution, the nature of sexual harassment in Egyptian society greatly evolved, as it transformed from a hidden phenomenon to an overtly prevalent social epidemic. This study presents the “weaponization” of sexual harassment as a common ground where class struggles, state policies, and women’s empowerment intertwine in post-revolutionary Egyptian society. It argues that the phenomenon was partially produced by an ongoing class struggle, manipulatively reproduced by the state, and strategically resisted by women for different yet interrelated reasons.

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown University


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