Ripe with youth and determination, a nine-year-old Egyptian girl became the youngest to file sexual harassment documents against her abuser in Egypt earlier in August. Bittersweet as it may be, this feat marks a furious stride forward for Egypt’s blooming #MeToo movement, and its relentless journey to reinforce safety and security as a human right. This revolution of identity and feminist narratives may have seen first-traction at the Fairmont, but has now taken itself hundreds of kilometers eastward to El-Alamien – where one little girl made history.
As reported by Honna El Watan News and according to the girl’s own father, the story begins deceptively benign: a young girl and her seven-year-old sister were playing at an indoor kid’s area in the El-Alamein, North Coast district. They were accompanied by a staff member, one otherwise tasked with looking out for children as they went about their play. Tossing a rubber ball back and forth between them, the girls and their friends became increasingly aware of this stranger; whenever the ball neared him, the caretaker would shoot it off to the side, forcing the elder of the two siblings to chase after it.
Once close enough, the man would shuffle into the space behind her, and proceed to molest the girl.
Deciding the first time may have been unintentional, she returned to her sister and continued to play. Over the course of the next hour, the incident developed into a pattern: the man would kick the ball out of bounds and force her to retrieve it, only to touch her inappropriately once she did.
Raised by her mother to recognize which parts of her body were private, she was quick to raise the alarm. Leaving her friend group behind under the guise of taking a quick break, she called her parents and waited for them to arrive just outside the kid’s yard. After informing them of exactly what had happened, the girl’s father was quick to keep the harasser put until the proper authorities arrived.
Surveillance footage confirmed the child’s story: a predator had been preying on their group as they played. What was once thought to be a staff member and children’s caretaker, was revealed to be a janitor posing as such, and it did not take long after for the party to head to the El-Alamein police station.
In police care, the young girl was asked to recite all she had been through, documenting her statements for a prospective harassment suit. Incentivized by the officer and the ardent support of her parents, the young girl chose to sign the document herself, firm in the desire to “save other children” in the process. Being raised in a family that “always listen[s] to [the girls] and how their day went”, her readiness to speak was understandable.
Presently facing charges, the predator has been in custody pending allegations of indecent assault on a child. The case number 1412 of 2021 has gained a fair amount of notoriety in the proccess.
This is not only a cautionary tale of social depravity, but one meant to inspire; if not for the narratives this one child grew up with – of encouragement, reassurance, and recognizing the difference between self-protection and victim mentality – her bravery would’ve been curbed by an otherwise merciless social climate. In her father’s own words: “A harasser will never be able to hurt a child who is willing to expose him. Teach your children [accordingly].”
While her parents have requested anonymity for her privacy and safety, her story is an ode to new beginnings – one that will continue to revitalize Egyptian women in their pursuit of better days.