Friday, November 2, 2012

EGYPT - Vigilantes Spray-Paint Sexual Harassers In Cairo

Original Article


By Leila Fadel

Over the recent four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, more than 1,000 sexual harassment complaints were filed in Egypt.

President Mohammed Morsi has ordered an investigation, but some are not prepared to wait for the government and the police to act.

Young men have formed vigilante groups and are hunting down perpetrators of sexual harassment in the capital, Cairo. Some are applauding the action, while others say it's a sign of how lawless Egypt has become.

Spraying The Perpetrators
The young vigilantes wear yellow vests as they gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point of last year's revolution. They carry cans of spray paint, but none is a graffiti artist.

They are part of the new campaign called "Estargel!" or "Be a Man." Emblazoned on the back of their vests are the words "Harassment Prevention." The spray paint is used to tag grabby young men and send them on their way, marked as harassers.

One vigilante, Muhab Selim, is lecturing young men gathered nearby on why it's wrong to harass women.

"I was advising them, telling them about the event, that they shouldn't try to molest girls," Selim says. Because "they gave themselves the right to molest the female, we gave ourselves the right to molest him — the molester."

Selim runs ahead of the other volunteers searching for men on the prowl.

The methods used to combat harassment are not entirely nonviolent. Selim sees a man he thinks has touched a girl. He grabs him and slaps him in the face. A brawl breaks out. One of the volunteers yells to the others not to hit anyone unless they're sure he harassed a girl.

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