Opinion

Where is the revolution?

Where is the revolution?

The nation referred to as “Om El Donya” or “Mother of the World” is not leading the world in technology, industry, culture, health, or education, but is instead leading the world in  sexual harassment and drug use.

By Mohamed Khairat, Founder, EgyptianStreets.com

Egypt: the worst place to be a woman? (Credit: Amnesty International)

Reports released this week have shocked both Egyptians and the international community, after it was revealed that Egypt leads the Arab world in sexual harassment, the political oppression of women, and female genital cutting. This comes after previous reports this year stated that Egypt leads the world in drug use,  the number of  Hepatitis C infections, and the number of deaths caused by road accidents.

More recently, the World Economic Forum ranked Egypt as the worst country in the world in the quality of primary education, while HSBC went as far as declaring Egypt the worst country to be an expatriate.

Egypt has been closely watched since the January 25 revolution in 2011, with people around the world hailing the revolution as a great achievement. Yet, what exactly did Egyptians achieve when Egypt is now ranked right behind Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or Syria when it comes to sexual violence towards women?

Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation

According to the Economist, Egypt ranks first in the list of countries that recorded a decline in access to economic opportunities for women as compared to previous years. 50 percent of Egypt’s 83 million population is women, yet they only make up 23 percent of Egypt’s workforce.

Echoing similar results, Egypt’s Central for Women’s Rights reported that Egypt ranks first in the world among countries where the status of women fell politically. In 2012, out of 264 members of the Upper-House of Parliament,13 were are women. In the 50-member constitutional committee currently drafting Egypt’s new constitution, there are only five women representing Egypt’s 41 million women.

More shockingly are the statistics regarding violence against women. According to UNICEF, 27.2 million women in Egypt are victims of female genital mutilation – the largest number in a single country in the world. Moreover, UN Women has found that 99.3% of all women and girls in Egypt have been subject to sexual harassment.

The revolution in which hundreds of thousands of young Egyptian men and women called for justice, equality, and freedom has moved forward with everything but justice, equality, and freedom for women.

Reports released by Egypt’s National Council for Battling Addiction reveal that the use of drugs among people over 15 has jumped from 6.4 percent to 30 percent since 2011. Egypt’s high level of drug use highlights the nation’s weakening social structure and the failure of the state to provide employment opportunities. Egypt’s youth unemployment rate is at 25 percent, while half of all young Egyptians are living in poverty. With no future to look forward to, the continued failure of the state pushes Egyptians to a new ‘high’.

The number of Hepatitis C infections further sheds light upon Egypt’s high drug use and the weak and substandard health system, with understaffed and under-resourced hospitals. The main cause of infection is normally intravenous drug use. In Egypt, the primary cause of the spread of the virus is the lack of enforcement and implementation of standard precautions in both public and private hospitals – Egyptians go to a hospital to get treatment yet leave the hospital in an even worse condition.

Egypt has one of the world’s highest hepaitis C infections

When Egypt’s top political, religious, and business leaders undertake treatment abroad, what message does that send?

The country that once built the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and two-thirds of the world’s monuments cannot build a modern road system that does not lead to the deaths of more than 10,000 Egyptians per year. The country that was once the Arab world’s cultural, technological, and industrial hub, has become one that is unable to provide adequate medical services to its citizens.

The problem is that the middle-class dominated society is stuck in the past: they are stuck believing that the revolution was the answer to all their dreams, when in reality it has become nothing but a political power play by all those hungry for control over Egypt.

The revolution should have been the answer to Egypt’s societal problems: to high illiteracy, the decaying public health network, and to the increasing polarization of women in society. It should have broken the ‘desensitization’ you feel when you see a one-armed beggar on Cairo’s streets with barely enough clothes to cover him. The revolution – Egypt – should have become a beacon for real, ground-breaking, inspirational change.

The point is, this is not the future we dreamed of, but it is not impossible to achieve an even greater future. The first step is by recognizing and challenging the harsh realities that many of us choose to ignore.

(Note: An alternate version of this article had previously been published on this website. It has been updated and re-published due to its significance and to reflect new information).

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  • Reblogged this on firdaulwin55.

  • A good article and a cry from the heart. I live in New Cairo, I have known Egypt for 35 years, and I would raise a few points:
    – Sexual harassment has been a problem for decades (I suffered it back in the ’70s, and it was the worst form of harassment I have ever experienced). What appears to be new in Egypt is the scale of the abuse. However, shockingly, I think abuse of women and even under-age girls is widespread, and growing, internationally – in Europe, there is a deeply disturbing problem with trafficking of women, often for prostitution.
    – My understanding is that the epidemic of Hep C began, ironically, with a misguided public health programme to vaccinate against infectious diseases, using shared and poorly sterilised needles. Now, it is pressure on health services and inadequate supplies of equipment (sterile gloves etc) that contribute to its spread, according to a recent BBC report.
    – Road traffic accidents are not, as far as I experience driving in Egypt, the result of poor infrastructure so much as the consequence of ignorance, selfishness and recklessness on the part of drivers of all ages and classes. I think carefully before driving anywhere in Cairo, I drive defensively all the time, and I avoid all confrontations: an Egyptian behind the wheel (particularly a male) is a danger to everyone else on the road.
    – I see little sign that the middle class en masse seriously wish for political and social change: to the contrary, they are more than happy with preserving their privileges.

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  • Reblogged this on ingoswannraum and commented:
    Two years ago, everything seemed possible for the beginning of an all inclusive democracy in Egypt. Today, Egyptians find themselves torn between the Powerhouse political forces of the Military and Islamists lead by the Muslim Brotherhood. Both forces, characterized by secrecy, chavinism, and mendacity have done everything possible to dominate the political will of the Egyptian people.

    Misogyny as a device for domination, and a by-product of political violence is beginning to define the Egyptian zeitgeist. This may not come as a surprise to some.

  • Reblogged this on jonhull1968.

  • Anonymous

    lies the worst country in the world to be a woman is afganistan

  • Thank you for providing this great data. When I lived in Egypt I experienced increased and unbearable levels of sexual harassment on the streets. Whenever I spoke about it with my male colleagues at work or among my male friends they would say something like: “Oh, come on, it is not that bad here. It exists everywhere in the world.” Well, no, it doesn’t. I think the society wasn’t ready to address this issue in a constructive way. A lot of Egyptians I know get really upset and act defensive when a foreigner starts criticizing their country. I think the first step is to admit that you have a problem and then start handling it accordingly.

    • Ella

      Masha, I was met with the same skepticism when I also told male friends in Egypt of such harassment. When I provided data – like this article – I was told the reports were lies or exaggerations to make Egypt look bad. Yet these same men advocated female genital mutilation because men are circumcised, why shouldn’t women be? The level of ignorance and indignation was shocking, and it made me very sad. You are correct. They need to face reality to fix it.

      • Hey

        Yeah, For me Egypt is the country with the highest levels of hypocrisy. Religious bigotry mixed with crazy partying behavior, alcohol, ridiculous beliefs. They have a long road ahead of them to fix all this craziness and move forward.

        Egyptians are very proud of the their country. But what are they proud of? Their country isn’t producing any innovations, economically and scientifically they are falling behind and are unable to admit it.

        We should all be proud of the places we come from, yet we need to admit that we all have problems back at home. Many Egyptians are blinded with their pride. I think it is time to grow up …

      • They are very good at finding excuses, and unable to accept criticism from foreigners.

        • Anonymous

          من انتم لكي تحاكمو كل الشعب المصري وتحكومو عليه بانهم متخلفون فمن منطلق مصر ام الدنيا فهذه الكلمه لها مدلول ومعنى كبير لايعرفه الا من عاش فيها ليس فقط من المصرييين بل ومن الاجانب الذين يعتبرون ان هذه البلد هى وطنهم الثانى وهذا ليس مجرد كلام فانا لى اصدقاء اجانب يعيشون هنا فى مصر منذ وق ت بعيد ولا يريدون العوده الي اوروبا بلدهم الاصلي لماذا؟ وفى ظل الوضع السىء الذي تعيش فيه مصر الان قبل وبعد الثوره من الدكتاتوريه العسكريه فلابد ان تعرفو ان هذا الشعب لا يملك امره سواء بالثوره او بدونها لان الفساد السياسى وفكرة ان مصر هى كالعكه مازالت وستظل عند ضعاف النفوس واصحاب المصالح الماديه و المرتشون والذين نشروا ثقافة الرشوة والمحسوبية فى جميع قطاعات الدولة الحكومية منها والخاصة لابد ان تعرفو انه يوجد وان كان ليس بالقليل ممن هو لدىيهم الثقافه والعلم والادب والاحياء والجغرافيا والهندسة والطب وجميع المجالات ولاكن ليست لديهم الفرصة للعمل لصالح بلادهم وذلك بسبب طمع الساسه وجشع المرتشون فالبعض منهم ذهب ليعمل لصالح الدول الاوروبيه ليعلي من شانها العلمي فى ذلك المجال ثم ياتي شخص مثلك يحاكم كل الشعب علي انه متخلفون كليا اقول لك اسف ولاكنك لاتعرفي مصر

  • Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  • Anonymous

    I am so sad and devastated that Egypt has become like this.I love Egypt and lived there for many years.A beautiful country with so many possibilities.Where is the respect for women and girls to live in an environment that offers them safety and protection to be able to contribute to the growth and prosperity that can be achieved?Men that sexually harass women don’t have respect for themselves,nor do they follow religion.Many countries had wars,have catastrophies and disaster even now (Philippines),this brings people together to help each other to mourn together and replace or rebuild what is lost.Drugs have no purpose,they don’t achieve anything apart from devastation, separation of families and lead to death and serious illnesses.Praying for all those who have lost hope,feel oppressed and can’t see the future bringing anything positive.
    .

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