Since the 2011 uprising, Egypt has gained a worldwide attention, as the issue of sexual harassment became rampant during the mass protests. Even today, several cases come up, where women are harassed or groped. Besides, the most reported cases range from catcalls to pinching or grabbing.
Recently, another Egyptian woman, Menna Gubran complained about a man, identified as Mahmoud Soliman, stalking her at the bus stop making inappropriate advances. She said that Soliman backed off only when she started filming him with her mobile phone.
The video was posted on Facebook, which led to an extensive debate. A number of Egyptians, including women, were found speaking for Soliman, after watching the video.
According to the polls in Egypt, both men and women believe that if women dress “provocatively” in public, such harassment is justified. This somehow explains the response of people on the video posted on August 15, by Gubran.
Some commented that she overreacted as the man was flirting politely. Others guessed about what the she was wearing and suggested that she was the one at fault.
In the video, Soliman can be seen approaching her on a suburban Cairo street and inviting her to coffee at a nearby shop, On the Run. Gubran politely declines and he walks away after apologizing.
However, Gubran in the subsequent video and TV interviews said that as she waited for the bus, Soliman had circled in his car thrice, and passed comments that made her uncomfortable. She also entered a nearby supermarket, hoping that he would leave. However, on returning she saw him coming by again and getting out of his car. This is when she started taping.
On the other hand, Soliman in his TV interviews denied doing anything off beam. Arguing Gubran’s statement of him circling in his car, he said, “I just invited her to drink coffee, and I never bothered her. When she said I was bothering her, I apologised and left.”
The video received a gush of angry responses. While Gubran was praised by many for exposing an alleged harasser, several questioned her motives and accused her of overreacting.
In Egypt, where women are increasingly witnessing such situations in their day-to-day life, whose fault it is? Is it the clothing of women that should be blamed, or is it just the mentality of men in the country?