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Sexual Harassment in Egypt: Class Struggle, State Oppression, and Women’s Empowerment

Author: Nadeen El-Ashmawy

In: Hawwa, Vol 15, No 3, 2017, pp. 225-256

Although sexual harassment is a worldwide phenomenon, it is noteworthy in Egypt, which recently occupied a top position on the map of sexual harassment on a world scale. In November 2013, Egypt was declared by the Thomson Reuters Foundation as the worst country for women to live in within the Arab World, when compared to twenty-two other Arab countries, largely because of its female sexual harassment rates. The United Nations Population Fund declared Egypt as ranking “second in the world after Afghanistan in terms of this issue.” In the years following the 2011 revolution, the nature of sexual harassment in Egyptian society was transformed from a hidden phenomenon to an overtly prevalent social epidemic. This study argues that the “weaponization” of sexual harassment is a common ground where class struggles, state policies, and women’s empowerment intertwine in post-revolutionary Egyptian society.