Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Disabling people out of habit - Marvelous world of Sexual Harassment

Again, I need to vent! A couple of days ago I finished reading one of the very few studies in the Middle East about sexual harassment. Not surprisingly, the study comes from the Egypt, one of the very few countries that have finally broken the wall of silence around street harassment. I expected it to be bad. I expected to find an outrageously high percentage of women that have been subject to street harassment (83% for Egyptian female citizens), I expected them to blame the woman’s outfit (62.5% assumed that a woman is more likely to get harassed if she is wearing a provocative outfit) only to contradict themselves a few seconds later (31% of the women who had confirmed being the victims of street harassment also confirmed that they are usually veiled and decently dressed when harassment takes place).
In my mind, I expected all that, but what I did not expect is how men willingly admitted that they had often harassed women on the street (62.4%), shamelessly as if they were doing nothing wrong going as far as pointing/hinting at or exposing bodyparts (4.3%) and a decent percentage even admitted they don’t even feel anything when they do these crimes, they just do them out of habit (19.3%).
Now that shocked me! What does this mean? What does it say about our society? I just think we live in a very sick society where degrading and humiliating women just because they are women have become the norm. When you know that 83% of women are fully aware of the fact that they are harassed, their humanity is aggressed. They are aware of how damaging this is but no one does anything about it. We don’t even want to talk about it.
This has reached a point where men don’t even see anything wrong with what they do, they admit that they harass women as if they are just stating that they like football. Women are afraid to go down to the street and avoid doing so, they have nightmares and depressions, their academic and professional productivity are reduced. Why? What for? Whereas some men enjoy it, others feel nothing at all, they just do it as a habit… Just a habit… For a retarded, stupid habit, women are deprived of the street that should be theirs just as it is anyone else’s.
Men often brag about how they are better drivers, how they are more productive at work, more successful in everything, more confident. And I have a question that anyone is kindly asked to answer: if you had to go through a debilitating experience, such as walking on the street when you are a woman; If your space is either limited to the safety of your home; if every excursion is a terrifying experience… would you be able to compete, excel and perform?
Most men adopting this oppressive patriarchal system are more vulnerable and weak than any other creature, but they are protected by patriarchy, by the fact that they can let out any anger or feeling of weakness on women, yes women, Women on the street, family members at home, or female colleagues. That is the sad truth of this great value that we defend so fiercely, our values in this beautiful Middle East have been degraded to humiliating women just because they are women who breathe.

The study is written in Arabic and I would recommend you read it: غيوم في سماء مصر


glore said...

You are right, stats are really frightening and we must have a closer look at it and the problem is that we don't even realize that problem exists. People are normally so ignorant that either they don't know anything or they dont want to do anything about it. I have also seen papers describing facts about harassment in 70-640, VCP-310 and mcdst and situation is really alarming...