It’s no secret that public sexual harassment is a big problem in Egypt, for both Egyptian and foreign women. A new Egyptian film called 678, released this month, is putting the spotlight on this problem, as well as the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.
In the film, popular actress and singer Bushra plays the part of an employee who suffers from harassment and is regularly molested while travelling to and from work on the public bus service. It marks the directorial debut of Mohammad Diab and is named after bus route No 678, which the heroine uses.
“The claim that the film harms Egypt’s image is a silly joke. Keeping silent on this phenomenon is what really harms Egypt’s name,” Bushra said in a recent interview.
Mohamed Diab, the director of the film, believed it to be among the most important movies he had produced.
Speaking at the seventh Dubai International Film Festival ahead of the gala screening of the film last night, Diab said: “I have made commercial movies before, but 678 was a risk. I have a strong belief in it and will continue its campaign, because it is not just a movie.” …
Egyptian singer Bushra, who was cast as one of the leading ladies, said the movie was about all women from all social classes.
“This film is about women’s rights, human rights and the invasion of privacy. We are discussing it from an Egyptian perspective because this is how we experienced it, but there is no doubt that this is a universal problem,” she said.
“Women of all ages and social class can [fall victim] to harassment, so the issue is how each relates and handles it,” she said.
Bushra also noted a surge of serious films which surpassed commercial motivation. “Politicians alone do not create change. It is high time for us actors and filmmakers to also participate,” she said.
Great!! I would love to see many more movies about sexual harassment that portray it in a negative light (instead of as a joke, compliment, or minor annoyance). Movies are powerful mediums for shaping public opinion. (Update: here is another article that describes more of the movie plot)
Another exciting new resource for changing the social acceptability of public sexual harassment in Egypt is HarassMap, which allows them to report harassers to a map tracking system.