At the conference, attendees concluded that harassment was unchecked because “laws don’t punish it, women don’t report it, and the authorities ignore it. The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, appears to be designed to drive women out of public spaces and seems to happen regardless of what they are wearing.”
Here is more information from the conference (via the AP):
- “We are facing a phenomena that is limiting women’s right to move … and is threatening women’s participation in all walks of life,” said Nehad Abul Komsan, an Egyptian activist who organized the event.
- Sexual harassment, including verbal and physical assault, has been specifically criminalized in only half a dozen Arab countries. Most of the 22 Arab states only outlaw overtly violent acts like rape, according to a study by Abul Komsan.
- In Syria, men from traditional homes go shopping in the market place instead of female family members to spare them harassment, said Sherifa Zuhur, a Lebanese-American academic at the conference.
- Amal Madbouli, who wears the conservative face veil or niqab, told The Associated Press that despite her dress, she is harassed.
I’m so happy to hear they were able to come together and discuss these issues. We need a global street harassment conference too, to discuss how we can work across all borders to make public places safe and welcoming for women!!