Egypt to distribute book on sexual harassment among Imams



 
Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments has published a book on sexual harassment that is to be circulated at local mosques around the country in an attempt to raise awareness about Egypt’s social problems among Imams.
 
By ALEXANDRA SANDELS
 
Egypt sexual harassment demonstration
Women's rights groups demand anti-harassment legislation on the steps of Cairo's Journalists' Syndicate shortly after the 2006 Eid incident. © Alexandra Sandels

BEIRUT, July 2, 2009 (MENASSAT) – Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments has published a book on sexual harassment that is to be circulated at local mosques around the country in an attempt to raise awareness about Egypt’s social problems among Imams.

The book, titled “Sexual Harassment: Causes and Solutions,” is co-written by Minister of Endowments Hamdi Zaqzouq and Salem Abdel Geleil, deputy minister of religious endowments.

Atef Galal, director of the public relations department at the ministry, said that the book’s main goal is to provide greater awareness about often overlooked issues.

“The main objective behind this book is to educate the imams and raise their awareness to contemporary problems and issues in the Egyptian society,” said Galal in an article published Daily News Egypt.

The book is to be distributed in mosques nationwide starting this week and reportedly discusses the definition of sexual harassment, motives behind it, and the occurrence of it in Egyptian society.

But it apparently also brings up how some girls might be “asking for harassment” by wearing revealing clothes or by their behavior, according to Daily News Egypt.

Egypt has been the scene of a series of incidents involving sexual harassment, earning the country unwanted media attention.

In late 2006, a mob of young men assaulted a group of women in the center of Cairo, tearing their clothes off and groping them in public view.

Video footage of the incident quickly made its way to the Egyptian blogosphere and from there to the Egyptian and international mainstream media.

In the summer of 2008, the Cairo-based Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR) released an alarming study on sexual harassment in Egypt, describing the issue as "a cancer-like problem."

According to the survey, 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women said they had experienced sexual harassment.

More than half of the Egyptian men questioned for the survey, 62 percent, admitted to having harassed women, and 53 percent of them blamed the women for "bringing it on.”

Last October, however, an Egyptian truck driver was sentenced to three years in jail with hard labor for sexually harassing a woman in an open street in 2007.

The verdict was a landmark trial and an unexpected victory for women's rights activists who have been fighting for years to convince a reluctant media to bring up the issue.

Women’s rights groups are currently lobbying before the Egyptian government to introduce a legislation that makes sexual harassment punishable under law.

Read MENASSAT’s previous article on sexual harassment in Egypt:

Men behaving badly
Posted on 22/10/2008 - 14:49
In a landmark court case, an Egyptian man was sentenced to three years in jail on Tuesday for sexually harassing a woman in the street. The verdict is an unexpected victory for women's rights activists who have been fighting for years to convince a reluctant media to bring up the issue. In Cairo, MENASSAT spoke with plaintiff Noha El-Ostaz and activists about Egypt's dirty secret. cairo.jpg