I’ve been working hard on my street harassment book and took a two day vacation over the weekend, so my posts have been lax the last week – sorry! Here’s a recap of three relevant news stories for the past week or so.
First, today journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein goes on trial again in Sudan. Her crime is wearing pants in public. Rather than take lashings as other women who were arrested did or rather than take immunity from her job with the United Nations she is electing to go through a public trial in an effort to change the laws saying women cannot wear pants in public. Her original trial was scheduled for August but it got rescheduled to today. Best of luck to her!
Second, it’s been one year since the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights released its report on the high rate of public sexual harassment in Egypt. Bikya Masr writes about how little things have changed for women since then.
“The government and police have done little to enforce the laws in place, which call for up to one-year in prison and a hefty fine for perpetrators.
“The police chief told another man ‘what if this were to happen to a foreigner or even an ambassador’s wife? Then we would have a problem.’ I felt as if I was being demeaned because I was Egyptian,” said an Egyptian woman who recently took an incident to a local police office. She argued that the police do not seem to put much weight when it comes to average Egyptians complaining of harassment.
And it is Egyptian women who face the brunt of harassment on a daily basis. ECWR agrees, saying that “not addressing this problem leads to total injustice, especially since victims often hesitate to report incidents for lack of confidence in the legal system or fear of being blamed herself.”
Third (and lastly), there is an interesting article in the Yemen Times about street harassment. In January 2009, a survey revealed that most women experience street harassment and for many of them this causes fear and anxiety about going into public spaces. The article from last week covers the role of Sana’a’s police patrol who monitor the street for crimes like street harassment, the low report rate of harassment, and the impact of Sheikhs on negative attitudes about women being in public (punish women who are not modest and not cloistered etc). Educators suggest the importance of teaching both boys and girls not to harass each other and to report people who do.