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Center for the Middle East

Women's Rights in the Middle East

When Sexual Harassment Becomes a Barrier to Development

Marwa Shalaby

When Sexual Harassment Becomes a Barrier to Development.

Most recent reports on sexual harassment in Egypt draw a dim picture of women’s status not only in that country, but also in most parts of the region. A recent United Nations study revealed that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past year, primarily in the form of physical harassment. A recent public opinion survey showed that 85 percent of Egyptian women surveyed agree sexual harassment is the most urgent problem facing women and girls in transitional Egypt, despite the prevailing political and social instability in the country. Looking closely at these statistics, it is evident that sexual harassment is becoming not only a repugnant social phenomenon or political tool used by the regime to suppress women’s participation in the political and public spheres; it is also progressively becoming a barrier for women to play an active role in society and enjoy equal citizenship rights in their own country. Most importantly, harassment has become an impediment for both economic and social development in the country—a critical issue that requires immediate attention from policymakers, legislators,
and society as a whole.

 

Click below to read Issue Brief 12.23.13.