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Egypt: A Man's Views on Sexual Harassment in Egypt

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Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 @ 18:42 UTC

by Marwa Rakha

In his post “The Sex Files“, blogger Wael Nawara presents a rather interesting perspective on sexual harassment in Egypt by drawing a comparison between Egyptian and Australian psychographics:

The situation seems to be quite the opposite down under. The British survey on Australian workplace showed that men were too afraid to complain about harassment. Aussie law firm Holding Redlich's senior associate, Fiona Knowles, said bosses were more likely to tell a man he was lucky to be ogled and hassled. One Australian man got a $10,000 payout after a Victorian tribunal found his bosses had dry-humped him and grabbed his genitals. Two-thirds of the 2300 men questioned in the British study also said that sexual banter was inappropriate at work. A separate poll of 1600 employers found bosses wouldn't take a complaint of sexual harassment as seriously if it were from a male worker! David Price of Peninsula said the balance had shifted and women now aimed sexual banter at men. “Not everyone's happy with these type of jokes and the situation is a growing problem for employers,” he said.

Going back to the situation in Egypt, Wael suspects that the reasons for the situations in the two countries are similar:

Emotional Deficit. For several decades, the Egyptian society was being Islamized, making the chances of having a natural and healthy pre-marriage boy-girl relationship ever diminishing. Marriage itself, it would seem is becoming more unaffordable than ever. The average age for marriage in Egypt for men has consistently increased. It is normal to see someone who is thirty years old who still has a few years to go before he can afford to provide the extensive requirements for marriage. In many cases, a young male in Egypt had to travel to the Gulf and work for a few years “building his fortune” to be able to afford the hefty burdens of marriage. Knowing that boys probably reach puberty at the age of 13 or 14, this means that a male in Egypt will spend some twenty years suffering from this emotional and “physical” deficit.

In Australia, on the other hand, the rising percentage of women in white-collar jobs, probably makes the corporate workplace more dominated by women. I guess someone has to research this further, but I think it is basic supply and demand. Market forces at work. Men who are “available”, “interested” and “interesting” seem to have become a rare commodity in Australia. Always with an eye for opportunities whenever a market “gap”, or a “hole” is identified, I would strongly recommend the Egyptian and Australian governments to work something out in the form of some “cultural exchange” program, where young and highly eligible Egyptian men are sent to Australia. In exchange, interested Aussie women are imported into the streets of Cairo where they will have the time of their lives with the abundance of sex-starved men! A bad joke? Time to get serious.

In his post, Wael also tackles the issue of civil marriage - Orfi or temporary marriage - that is highly frowned upon in Egypt:

According to the theory of the “Parallel State”, whenever a formal economic, social, cultural or legal subsystem fails to deliver the basic needs of the people, mother nature steps in. People have collectively demonstrated a remarkable genius in devising parallel sub-systems to fill that gap, hole or deficit. Marriage becomes unaffordable, young couples resort to “civil marriage” or “Gawaz 3orfi”.

Wael elaborates on the theory of parallel states saying that in Egypt:

Courts don't work? You have thugs to bring back your money, checks or stolen land or apartment. The police doesn't care? You hire your own body guards or security officers, thank you very much. Government hospitals threaten to prematurely send you to your grave, you tip the nurses and everything will be fine, and you can always go for the five-star hospitals or the mosque clinics. Fixed rent for old apartment too low? There is “key-hold money” (Khelew Regl). And so on and on. This is the Parallel State at work and natural laws at their finest. And as these individual subsystems interact, they get interlocked in a huge web of “grey” or “shadow” subsystems, thus forming the “Parallel State”, the “Shadow State”.

Then he links this theory to his emotional deficits theory saying that:

The same goes for these emotional deficits. You want to call the abusers criminals and send them to jail, fine. So do I. This may be a part of the solution. But ultimately, on the long-term, we must learn to stop fighting nature. Accept nature. Young men and women have basic emotional and physical needs. These needs create demand which must be addressed with social solutions. Must be channeled in socially acceptable channels, affordable solutions and feasible means. The tightening moral code introduced by the Islamists only threatens to develop an explosive situation at home. There has been many reports and TV shows describing a similar situation at Saudi Arabia, where percentage of homosexuality is on the rise. Incest and other perverted forms of relationships seem to be increasing at alarming rates. Why do we have to deny nature and see perfectly normal relations indecent is beyond me. You ignore the laws of mother-nature and you will be inviting the parallel state to devise its own solution.

Wael concludes his post saying that:

If “civil marriage” or “Gawaz 3orfi” is a “grey solution” to mostly unaffordable “formal” marriage, sexual assault and molestation is a “black” and criminal behavior adopted by those who are unable to satisfy or control “that” deficit through the “grey solution”, namely the “civil marriage”.

I do not want anyone to think that I am an apologist on behalf of the abusers. I am not. I am with tightening the punishment, but we have to realize that few, if any, seem to be reporting or filing police complaints against the abusers. So, the long-term solution in my opinion will be, to relax or ease the tight restrictions on boy-girl relationships. Let us go back to our normal selves. Again, I am not promoting total dropping of our customs, traditions or values in favor of becoming widely permissive. I am only suggesting that we, as a society, loosen the tight screws a bit to help release some of the pressure, in order to avoid explosion of an already flammable situation.

Posted by Marwa Rakha

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