Street Harassment Organisation define street harassment as:
“Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Street harassment includes unwanted whistling, leering, sexist, homophobic or transphobic slurs, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after they’ve said no, sexual names, comments and demands, following, flashing, public masturbation, groping, sexual assault, and rape.”
In many countries in MENA, harassment is an epidemic especially in Egypt, and street harassment reaches horrific levels in public holidays and celebrations. The harassment is usually takes place in gardens, public transportations and markets, and it includes leering, honking, whistling, sexist Comments, vulgar gestures, sexually explicit, kissing noises, following, path blocked, sexual touching or grabbing, target of public masturbation, assault, and not ending with group rape which is publicly known in Egypt as the “feast.”
One sad thing many women in MENA endure, is their refusal to face the harasser and shame him in public. Many women remain silent when they are touched or grabbed because they don’t want to be embarrassed before society, a strange twisted logic for society to see the victim’s call for justice is an insult to the values and traditions without seeing harassment as a crime and the harasser as an abuser needs to be shamed and punished. The law does not stand beside the victims, many women resorting to police stations to complain and demand action are either insulted or even harassed by the police. Women are demanded to remain silent and do not shame their families by talking about what happened to them. The blame for this falls on women who are called to wear more decent cloths or even go out less despite the fact that a lot of women in MENA cover their bodies and hair, while calling to stay home is an unrealistic and backward call that curtails women’s basic right of free movement.
In Egypt, a campaign called “Expose a Harasser” started on social media to encourage women to speak up and shame the perpetrators on larger scales since laws and traditions do not bring justice to women, women had to seek justice for themselves and for others. The campaign called women to document what happened to them, and if they could take pictures or video of the harasser and post it on the campaign’s Facebook page to expose him and alarm other women when they see his face in their area. The campaign gathered many women together to talk, defend and heal.
Expose a Harasser is one step toward women empowerment in a patriarchal environment that does not even recognises women’s rights to demand justice and be seen as human beings. This campaign seemed to shame the persons who deserved to be shamed and not the victims. Without technology, such campaign would not see daylight, and women would not be able to resort to one place in cyberspace and defend themselves freely.