Sexual harassment is a prevalent issue in Egypt, we already know that much. The blame is almost always thrown on the victim for “dressing inappropriately”, which led to most girls conforming to a dressing “norm”. One could get harassed not for wearing anything revealing, but for not wearing the typical uniform of shirt, jeans and veil. Therefore, many girls’ ultimate dream has become to wear a dress without being harassed. This is where “Elbesy Fustan” really comes from. The Facebook group was started by Radwa Aboul Azm and her friend. This was after Radwa noticed that whenever she posted a picture of herself in a dress she got words of praise from girls who wished to do the same.
So far, the initiative has been receiving support, “the feedback was very positive. We even meet up so we can wear dresses together”, Radwa says, “we check the profiles of the people who will be accepted into the group so we know they have the mindset to accept this. Also, no men are allowed into the group”.
Still, the main issue remains that wearing a dress sometimes guarantees that the girl will be harassed, “some people stare at us like we’re doing something strange, but not actual harassment”, Radwa says, “we also try to stay in places where we won’t be harassed. Wearing a dress to Downtown or a governmental office will definitely mean there will be some annoyances”.
The question here is: can an initiative like this change things in Egypt? Radwa thinks so, “maybe when they see more women in dresses they’ll get used to it”, she explains, “back in the day of our parents women wore dresses all the time”.