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Until this is understood to be a crime of violence, dealing with it will be useless. This is not a crime of passion, or even of lust, it is not a sexual crime, it is not a moral problem, it is a problem of upbringing, of circumstance. To think that this can be cured by preaching or teaching morality is so off course it is ludicrous. It is like trying to teach a murderer the error of his ways by telling him to pray. OK, he can pray for forgiveness, but prayer did not stop him from murder. With sexual harassment the motivation is mostly because they could. It is opportunity, it is a strong feeling of entitlement, the degrading light in which women are portrayed, and just the sheer confidence that he can get away with it.
Part of the problem is the penal code that does not recognize this as a crime of violence. Not only is there no definition of harassment, the only mention is of rape. If the act is not complete, then the perpetrator can get away with it completely. The law does not recognize harassment.
The best way to combat sexual harassment is to focus on the law. The law must be changed to ensure that this act is considered a crime and not just an act of high spirits that should be just frowned upon. It should be very clearly defined as a CRIME that deserves PUNISHMENT. To ensure this happens, all elements in society must unite in pressuring the new Parliament for proper legislation.
There are many differing opinions as to why such a phenomenon is raging throughout Egypt now, and as to how to combat it. I am no sociologist, but common sense tells you that there must be something drastically wrong for such a phenomenon to develop and accelerate to such proportions in a relatively short period of time. From my personal observations as a layman, I would say that a combination of socio-economic factors lay at the root of this problem. It is not a psychological aberration, it is just a manifestation of certain deprivations that have resulted into a tamped down smoldering anger that reaches a flaring point and manifests itself in violence against a perceived weaker adversary.
A young man, brought up in a humble household, where there is very little to go around, yet with the prevailing male dominated culture, is given preferential treatment over the females of the household, grows with the belief in his entitlement at the expense of any female. When he sees that his every whim is catered to by the females in the household, this then becomes the normal world. Then when he is met with frustration in achieving his economic dreams, his frustration turns to anger and the natural outlet for this anger is the one he was brought up to think of as normal, the subservient, second class human being, the female. To me that is why when a man is caught red handed in the act of harassing a female on the streets, the general reaction is apathy. The worst part of the problem is the female role in bringing about this situation, it is the already defeated mother at home who gives her son that feeling of entitlement, and her daughter the feeling of subservience. When these women are educated in self worth, this problem will automatically be reduced from the source, which is the home.
Some of the proposed short term solutions for this violence is a shaming system. To shame the perpetrator into stopping, by public humiliation. In one of the countries in the Far East, cannot remember which, a man caught harassing a woman would be tied to a tree for a full day and would be humiliated by all those coming and going. This might be quite effective if it were not turned into a badge of honor and machismo achievement in our currently warped culture. If it is perceived as a humiliating punishment, it might give any potential hassler pause. To my way of thinking, the whole concept of male/female dominant/subservient relationship has to be uprooted and redefined to one of equality of human beings. The effect of the semi ignorant “sheikhs” who take it upon themselves to preach such sick ideas are probably at the root of this evil, as they give it a facade of religious sanctity. Whereas proper religion has preached equality and has given women the rights that are still being sought by women in the west through legislation.
There are now many a group and an organization that have taken up the fight for the rights of hassled or molested women, as well as those of sexually abused children. But from where I stand it looks like uphill work without the proper legislation, and proper education of the individuals of the enforcing police being in place. Once the law is in place which criminalizes sexual harassment, then the individuals on the police force who are called upon to implement that law have to be educated into changing the attitude they were brought up with. Many an enlightened young man has come to see the light, and they became a force to be reckoned with when protecting the female protesters during the huge demonstrations held in Tahrir against the MB. That was when the MB started using sexual harassment and abuse as a political weapon against the people in general. They harassed or raped the women and shamed their men with the fact. But these brave young men formed cordons of human shields to protect the women protesters. This was a defensive action. To combat this phenomena a much more aggressive plan of attack needs to be put in place, with the combined efforts of legislation, education and religion. Only then can we reduce such a plague to the minimum, as with human nature being what it is, this cannot be totally eradicated.