Sexual Harassment in Egypt: A Conversation with Vickie Langohr (S. 5, Ep. 5)

pablo-13On this week’s POMEPS Conversation podcast, Marc Lynch speaks with Vickie Langohr about public sexual harassment faced by women in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. Langohr is an associate professor at the College of the Holy Cross, focusing on Middle East politics, nationalism and democratization.

“Egyptians will often tell you that several decades ago, [sexual harrasment] was not something that was happening a lot. But we have data from 2008 — before the revolution — that shows pretty close to the same number of women polled saying they experienced harassment even on a daily basis.”

“Public sexual harassment has become an issue of 20 or 30-somethings is because they’re in public more, particularly in protests.  I do think there is a generational angle to it.” Langohr said a lot of sexual harassment happens on crowded subways. “Any time there’s mass crowding on public transit, sexual harassment increases.”

Langohr spoke with young Egyptians about their political involvement. “In the interviews I’ve done with many members of these groups…many would say ‘I never even dreamed anybody but Mubarak could be in power.’ Not because they liked him, but because the political horizon of the imaginary was not there.”

While Egypt has tightened its laws on protesting in public, Langohr says that activism is still happening. “Even though activists can’t work in the streets anymore, there has been a spread into the institutions, like Cairo University.”

Still, even after a 2014 amendment that increased penalties and made it slightly easier to prosecute, “Many women don’t want to bring charges because, unfortunately, people in their family believe that if they’ve been harassed, they must have brought it on themselves in some way.”

“So there’s a lot that remains to be done.”

Music for this season’s podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook and Instagram page.

You can download this week’s podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, follow us on SoundCloud, or listen below:

Read more from Langohr:
The changing face of women’s political participation in the Middle East, with Marc Lynch and Lauren Baker, Washington Post, May 10, 2016

Why Egyptians have mobilized against public sexual violence, Washington Post, April 6, 2016

Arab youth activism for gender equality,Washington Post, November 10, 2014

Labor Movements and Organizations in The Arab Uprisings in Comparative Perspective, ed. Marc Lynch, Columbia University Press, 2014.This is Our Square: Fighting Sexual Assaults at Cairo Protests, Middle East Report, Vol. 13, Fall 2013

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