Vigilante groups in Cairo, Egypt have begun combating the country’s problem with sexual harassment. Women in the Middle Eastern nation have long-endured catcalls, groping, and assaults on the country’s streets.
Cops have tended to ignore the problem after the fall of their authoritarian leaders, reports Newser. But citizens’ groups in the nation have started patrolling the capital of Cairo as they seek to shame both the abusers and the authorities who ignore the problem.
The abuse of women has become more visible since the uprising, with even those in the military being implicated in the assaults. They have stripped female protesters, threatened others with violence, and subjected activists to “virginity tests,” according to The New York Times.
The change has been especially noticeable during the Eid al-Adha holiday when men were attacked for harassing women. The change has been brought about both out of concern for women’s rights as well as a frustration over the post-revolutionary government, which is still not doing enough to protect its citizens.
At least three citizen activist groups were seen patrolling busy sections of central Cairo during the holiday. The groups were comprised of both men and women who share the conviction that authorities in Egypt are not acting against harassment. They believe officials will not act until the issue is forced into a public debate.
Harassment of women was commonplace under the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. His wife, who spoke of being a champion of women’s rights, believed the issue rarely happened. She stated in 2008 that “Egyptian men always respect Egyptian women.”
While the people of the Middle Eastern nation may have more independence democratically, women have not fared any better under Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi.
While vigilantism may not be the best option for combating violence against women in Egypt, it is the citizens’ best defense until the issue becomes more important for the country’s government.