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“The Way I See it” Opinion Column: Sexual Harassment

The Caravan University Newspaper – The American University in Cairo

Cairo, Egypt
After the recent sexual harassment in downtown Cairo, many psychologists
attempted to rationally explain the completely irrational behavior of those sick-minded
individuals. They didn’t necessarily justify their actions, but rather blamed it on their
“sexual frustration.” With all due respect to all those who support that theory, there is
absolutely no logical way to justify what happened.
First, pre-marital sex is forbidden not only in Islam, but also in Christianity and
Judaism, meaning that it’s not only our culture that restricts the act. And while it is
forbidden socially and religiously, it does not necessarily mean that no one is doing it.
There is a very active sexual population in Egypt; it’s just not out in the open.
But fine, maybe there are those who choose to abstain (or simply cannot obtain sex) until
they are married. Explain to me the reasons behind older men who still sexually assault
women, either verbally or physically. I was once groped by a middle-aged man in the
street, while a friend of mine was sexually harassed by a man who looked as old as my
grandfather. These were men who were either married or who had been.
It’s not about sexual frustration; it’s about a lack of morals, ethics and just basic
etiquette. Egyptians preach about the girl’s honor, or sharaf el bint, but then you get eye-
raped and harassed just walking down the street, regardless of what you’re wearing. It’s a
complete contradiction —- but then again, we’re in Egypt, where hypocrisy is a national
What’s more, pre-marital sex isn’t just forbidden for men. As a matter of fact, it is
more socially acceptable for men to engage in sexual activities than women in Egypt. As
completely taboo as this may sound, women have needs too. So after 20-some years of
waiting, technically we can deduce that girls also have every right to be sexually
“frustrated,” but I don’t see them running around sexually harassing men (although I’m
sure it’s something that most men wouldn’t object to).
Egyptians need to learn self-control and to stop making excuses for themselves.
We have been raised to get what we want and get it through any means possible. There
are always ways to go around the rules when it comes to yourself. For example, you want
to drive fast, so rather than not speeding, you speed and then bribe your away out of the
ticket. Unfortunately, satisfying your needs can hurt someone else. Sadly, 30 seconds of
pleasure for those individuals scarred someone permanently.
Maybe it’s oppression or maybe it’s just a general frustration. AUC students may
not have to deal with finding a way to put food on the table, but the same rules for sexual
conduct apply to all of us. Regardless of the problems they may have, it’s still no excuse
for what happened. Egyptians pride themselves on their honor and conservativeness,
while their actions are completely hypocritical. People need to abide by their own views
and self-proclaimed values and learn to control themselves regardless of temptation. They
need to learn to take the blame for once and treat women the way they wish someone
would treat their mother or sister.
Stop making excuses for these individuals so they can learn to stop making
excuses for themselves; it’s a vicious cycle.