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Egypt Unveils What Could Be the Region’s Biggest Anti-Sexual Harassment Drive

The campaign aims to help women feel safe, move around freely and break the silence surrounding sexual harassment.

Whatever your age, social background or nationality, if you’re a woman residing in Egypt, the chances of being sexually harassed are extremely high. Even females wearing a hijab or niqab in what should be safe areas like malls, the workplace and schools are susceptible to being harassed.

Feeling it’s time for firm action, Bassita, an Egyptian startup company that created Clickfunding, has launched what has been described as the region’s biggest anti-sexual harassment campaign. The drive by the NGO that highlights social issues focuses on where sexual harassment is most rampant, on the streets and on public transportation. By starring in the video, Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby has helped it trend quickly on social media. “Why do we always blame the girl when she gets harassed?” she asks. Egyptian Hany Adel, a guitarist, vocalist, and screen actor, features in the video too. His simple yet effective lines, including, “Stand with her, not against her,” have also helped turn it into a discussion starter.

Bassita’s innovative multi-award winning Clickfunding model means you can easily help make a difference and be part of a genuine change. Just by clicking “Like”, commenting or sharing the video on social media, you can help push the funding. The video, which is initiated and supported by Egypt’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Transport, USAID and the European Union amongst others, is also set to run on many Egyptian national and private TV channels for maximum impact.

“We came up with the idea more than eight months ago, and have since been working on getting all the necessary official permits to launch the campaign, and luckily not only did we get the permits, but a number of ministries and reputable NGOs decided to join in our effort to ensure the success of the campaign," Bassita's Project Officer, Mostafa Habib, said to “Cairo Scene.”

The next move is to deluge Egypt's public transportation network with anti-harassment messages. Plus, one of the most important stages of the campaign is to publicise the national hotline women should use to report any sexual harassment. This is crucial as the biggest obstacle to fighting sexual harassment in Egypt is the silence surrounding the deeply rooted problem, as well as the fact women are told to just walk quickly and keep their heads down.  So Bassita is calling on women to #Speak_up instead of blaming themselves, living in fear and suffering in private.

The safety situation for women in Egypt got noticeably worse after the 2011 uprisings due to fewer opportunities for them to gain financial independence, as well as an excess of frustrated, jobless men, particularly young ones. Surveys have shown just how perilous it has been for the female gender. In addition to Thomson Reuters Foundation listing Cairo as one of the world’s most dangerous megacities for women, a 2013 United Nations study revealed a whopping 99.3 percent of the Egyptian women involved in the report had been sexually harassed. Additionally, in another survey, 64 percent of Egyptian men admitted to engaging in sexual harassment, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

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