Sexual harassment is among Egypt’s most persistent issues which women and girls have had to endure at growing rates in the recent times. According to a study conducted by the UN Women back in 2013, 99.3 per cent of Egyptian women confirmed that they were victims of sexual harassment. Among the respondents, 82.6 per cent stated that they do not feel safe leaving their homes.
In order to combat the outrageous growth of the phenomenon, several initiatives and NGOs have delved into the various means of curbing sexual harassment. Among the latest initiatives that are soon to come into action is Pink Taxi –a taxi service created solely for women with women drivers.
However, is keeping women away from men the answer to resolve this major societal issue?
“Keeping women away from men is not the answer to sexual harassment because at the end of the day, I may not be harassed by a cab driver but I am positive that a minute’s walk down the street would result in a few unwanted words and looks,” said Sara Mohammed, a 21-year-old Mass Communication student.
“Men in Egypt need to understand that we are not inferior, and they have no right to harass a woman regardless of what she is wearing or how she’s acting,” Sara explained. “It’s time they accepted that!”
The Pink Taxi initiative does resolve a small fraction of the sexual harassment epidemic in Egypt; women no longer have to fear getting sexually harassed, assaulted, or violated by a cab driver.
However, many concerns have circled the ideology fueling the Pink Taxi initiative claiming that such approach will not eliminate sexual harassment in the country; the same way covering a deep cut with a Band-Aid won’t stop it from bleeding.
“I don’t see how alienating a part of society that already feels alienated could be a good idea,” said Omar Jamal, a 26-year-old aspiring painter.
“I have sisters and I don’t want to think that the only way they can feel safe in their country is if they get into a pink car,” he added. “It’s absurd” he added.
Despite the recent ratification of Egyptian laws that add verbal harassment, and other forms of harassment, to the penalized crimes, raising penalties to a maximum of five years in prison, and fines as hefty as LE 50,000 ($US 6384), eradicating the phenomenon requires further involvement from society besides the authorities’ official intervention.