Children and Sexual Harassment – Egypt’s Reality

Children and Sexual Harassment – Egypt’s Reality

Story One – Arabic Lessons

As a 14 year old girl in a foreign-language school, I used to take private Arabic lessons at home. The teacher was a somewhat overweight, balding man who I called Ostaz Mohsen. The lessons took place in my bedroom, where we sat at my desk. I was a somewhat rebellious and irreverent girl, who liked questioning things and challenging established ideas. This didn’t bid well for me. Ostaz Mohsen would get angry and occasionally raise his voice at me. One time, while I was reading a paragraph from a book out loud, Ostaz Mohsen pulls out my Madonna Calendar off the desk shelf. He opens it and starts going through it month by month. One image particularly grabbed his interest; he stared at it for what seemed like an eternity and held it at a distance so he can better examine it. It was an image of Madonna wearing nothing but what appeared to be a silver swimsuit with cones covering her breasts. I didn’t know how to act and just continued reading.

Another time, while explaining something to me, he started casually stroking my upper arm with his pen, as if this were a most natural thing to do. I was mortified and didn’t know what to do.

“I no longer felt comfortable being alone in my room with Ostaz Mohsen.”

After the lesson, I told my parents that I no longer wanted to be alone in a room with Ostaz Mohsen. I asked them if I could take my lessons in the living room, where they could see us. I was too embarrassed to tell them why I no longer felt comfortable being alone in my room with Ostaz Mohsen, and they quickly dismissed my request. How would they be able to watch TV if I was sitting there with my teacher?

For the next couple of months I started dreading these classes more than anything. Thank God the semester ended soon, and I never had to see him again, but I still wonder how many other girls he molested and harassed as he had done with me.

 

Story two – He Touched Me From Behind

A couple of months ago, a 9 year old fingered me from behind as I was walking down the street. I wasn’t sure what he had done or even if he had done it, because it was done very subtly, but when I turned around and saw the smirk on his face, I was livid. I knew what he had done; and he was proud to have done it! That sick child was proud of it and grinning at me in content and pride.

Even though he was only a kid and wasn’t older than 10, I couldn’t stand seeing him proud of such an act. I turned around and automatically began to scream at the top of my lungs at him. I was so loud that people started gathering around to see what was happening. I was yelling and yelling at the kid and telling him he was “’aleal il adab”, meaning void of manners. I caught him off guard so much with the volume and tone of my voice that instantly the smirk was gone and replaced with a look of shock that soon changed to tears. He couldn’t believe I had reacted. A policeman came by and joined the crowd and asked me what was wrong. I was too embarrassed to say the Arabic term which would perfectly describe what he had done to me, because it is too vulgar a word. So instead, I said “lamasni min wara” meaning he touched me from behind. The cop grabbed the kid and began smacking him.

“I knew what he had done; and he was proud to have done it! That sick child was proud of it and grinning at me in content and pride.”

I know I shouldn’t condone this kind of violence, but I loved it. I loved seeing him suffer and get beaten up and hurt, just as he had brutally violated me. I wanted revenge for it. I wanted revenge for him making me feel as if it were my fault, for wearing tight jeans. I hated him.

 

BuSSy is a performing arts project that documents and gives voice to censored untold stories about gender in different communities in Egypt. The project organizes storytelling workshops and performances where women and men step on stage to share stories about harassment, rape, gender discrimination, honor killing, forced marriage, Female genital mutilation, motherhood, domestic violence, child abuse, mass sexual assaults and many others, from different communities and cities in Egypt.

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