An advertisement by French automobile brand Citroen has attracted criticism for its apparent promotion of sexual harassment in Egypt.
The advertisement, released by Citroen Egypt in the first week of December, has become the subject of social media debate after being reshared by women’s rights activists in Egypt who say the advertisement promotes sexual harassment.
In the advertisement for Citroen C4, superstar Amr Diab is shown driving the vehicle before coming to a stop for a woman to cross the road. As she crosses the road, Diab glances at her then taps the front windscreen. That action results in a photograph being taken and sent directly to Diab’s phone. In the following scenes of the advertisement, the woman is then seen going out on a date with Diab.
After first being reshared by Twitter user KilljoyKaat, the advertisement sparked a debate on social media regarding whether it promotes sexual harassment. Women’s rights activists say the advertisement is yet another example of businesses promoting a culture of sexual harassment in Egypt.
Posting on Twitter and Instagram, actor Rosaline Elbay said “this [the ad] is sexual harassment”. Another activist, Sabah Khodir, said “I can’t sleep thinking Citroen really did a sales commercial basically saying ‘Buy our car. We now have an improved technology that helps you harass women quicker and effortlessly’”.
— Rosaline Elbay (@RosalineElbay) December 28, 2021
Concerns expressed by a number of women’s rights activists have been met with dismissive comments by a number of men on social media who claim that women are “overreacting” to the advertisement. Meanwhile, Citroen Egypt has been deleting negative feedback and criticism from its social media posts and only responding to positive feedback.
Speak Up, an Egyptian platform fighting sexual harassment, shared the video under the caption “taking a photo of someone without their consent is a crime”. Speak Up explained that there have been multiple incidents in Egypt where women caught strangers taking photos of them, and after reporting these incidents to the police, the perpetrators were given fines and prison sentences.
Many viewers have also attacked Diab, calling him out for “objectifying women”, and stressing that an artist like him should be more careful on what he promotes since Arab and especially Egyptian youth look up to him.
In the past 24 months, there has been increased conversation and action around women’s rights and issues in Egypt.