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The women’s subway car: separate, unequal and harassed

July 24, 2014

The unmistakable red and green stickers on the women’s subway cars showing the quintessential stick-figure of a woman with a triangle for a dress give the sensation that one is going into the women’s toilet instead of work. The segregation of the sexes in Cairo’s subway cars was implemented since the subway´s conception in 1987, and to this day, remains a mirror of society’s conception, placement and treatment of women and their fight for respect. A young woman stepped into a half empty women’s car of Cairo’s subway on the first day of Ramadan. This time around, a woman was the uninviting element disrupting the car’s drowsy air; a striking change from the usual man surreptitiously entering through the subway’s doors as they opened lazily. The young women walked into her designated space for “safe” public transport only to realize men were already part of it. When she chose to reclaim it, and before reaching the next stop, she was on the ground, knocked down by a man’s heavy slap across her face. When the subway reached Shuhada, the subway’s central unit, the girl stood alone with the echo of…

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