Powerful Sexual Harassment PSA Puts You in an Egyptian Woman's Shoes

In a powerful PSA by United Nations Women, viewers are put in the position of an Egyptian woman as she experiences terrible sexual harassment everywhere she goes.


Though not a new issue, sexual harassment in Egypt has come under recent international scrutiny following the many horrifying accounts of sexual assaults that came out of the Tahrir Square protests of dictator Hosni Mubarak and then of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. 91.5% of Egyptian women say that they've been groped by strangers in public and 99.3% say that they've encountered some form of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, these women are often victim blamed and their complaints are rarely taken seriously.

"When we try to complain, even to friends or family but especially to authorities, they say we are to blame because of the way we dress, the way we act, where we were walking," May Iskander, a student women's rights activist at Cairo University, told Buzzfeed. "And you can be a full women in a full niqab [headscarf] and still be harassed. Whoever doesn't know this doesn't live in Egypt."


The United Nations Women PSA attempts to make men better understand the daily plight of Egyptian women, stating "Every day she faces humiliation, anger, she lives in fear, and she experiences violence… put yourself in her shoes, instead of finding ways to blame her."

In watching the PSA, it becomes clear that this kind of sexual harassment is not a specifically Egyptian problem. Women all over the world face unwanted touching, comments and seedy behavior from men in a variety of circumstances, whether it be riding the bus, walking down the street or simply attempting to exist in the public sphere.

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I really liked that it was shot from her perspective, because in my experience, many men — even well-meaning ones — cannot take themselves out of the headspace of a guy when they hear about things like this, and default to trying to understand or explain his actions. But when that guy gropes her leg in the cab, you don't wonder what she's wearing or if she's just sooo pretty that he just couldn't help himself. You just see that he's a fucking creep trying to get away with something. I think that even the type of guys who resort to "where exactly on the leg/maybe it was just crowded!" can't help but feel the revulsion and fear from this angle.