Exclusive: Feminism is 'Booming' in Egypt Despite Controversial 'Man Up' Campaign

Published August 26th, 2017 - 06:48 GMT
99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment (AFP)
99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment (AFP)

Feminism is booming in Egypt despite a controversial street campaign encouraging men to control women’s clothing choices, a leading activist has claimed.
The news comes after banners appeared on streets across Egypt encouraging men to “man up” by preventing women from wearing tight clothing.
Worryingly, the “Estargel” campaign has managed to recruit over 17,000 followers globally on social media.
The page is littered with posts from men who wish to control women’s bodies and choice of attire in the region.
While it is thought that the campaign has no official organization team, various posters spreading the group’s message have appeared on streets in Egypt.
Photos of the banners sparked criticism across social media.
However, women’s rights groups have branded the move as laughable in a time when women in Egypt are demanding equality.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Gender and Women's Rights Officer Dalia Abd El-Hameed.
Abd El-Hameed believes that the campaign belongs in the past and is not relevant to modern Egyptian society.
“I think society is shifting. I would say that there is a huge difference now than a decade ago. There isn’t as much permeability for campaigns like this and the sexual violence that they cause making its way into the mainstream culture and discourse,” she added.


The women’s rights activist went on to brand those behind the campaign.
“We have 90 million people in Egypt, and as such, you can find some people to cheer for just about any cause. You can find some extremely disturbing causes here including support for ISIS. This campaign is just another type of extremism,” she added.
Abd El-Hameed believes that the campaign comes as a reaction to the call for women’s equality in Egypt.
“But I would say that more and more women are speaking up, feminism is booming in Egypt. I see this as a reaction from men who don’t want to give up their privileges and part of this privilege is controlling women's bodies. Right now we are in a time where women are fighting for their rights, and for more autonomy, over their bodies, and on the other hand we have men who would prefer that the status quo remains.”
She believes that the stunt will do little to stop the campaign for equality in the country.
“I don’t expect that this campaign will be successful in any way. They’ve managed to gather a couple of thousand followers on Facebook but you can find these kinds of slogans everywhere.”
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women published a report in 2013 showing that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.


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