It's rush hour. Commuters pour into the carriage. The women clutch their bags to them like makeshift shields, the only thing they have to protect themselves against wandering hands and men that rub up against them on the bus or underground. This scene shows what millions of women have to put up with on Cairo's public transport network every day. It is also one of the powerful sequences in an awareness-raising video put out on social media on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
All women are affected
This video urges women to break the silence and speak out about the abuse they suffer daily. It also reminds all public transport users that it is time to stop being passive when confronted with sexual harassment on public transport. A scourge that affects all women, whatever their background or age.
What does this campaign aim to achieve? To prevent violence against women and put a stop to the consequences for their rights and freedoms. In Egypt, voices are beginning to be raised and are becoming increasingly audible on the subject of sexual harassment in public spaces, and this is leading to some concrete actions. In 2014, the adoption of a series of amendments to the Criminal Code to provide for punishment of sexual harassment was an important first step.
With a coalition of actors
The campaign was first launched by the AFD in Egypt and then it mobilised a wide variety of government actors (Ministries for Investment and International Cooperation, Transport, Youth and Sport, the National Council for Women), but also in the development sector (GIZ, USAID, the EU, UN Women, Drosos Foundation, RATP Dev) and the private sector (SODIC, Egypt's leading real estate company).
Its implementation was orchestrated by Bassita, a Franco-Egyptian start-up best known for its "clickfunding" campaigns on development-related subjects, such as raising awareness of disability or street children.
On 25 November last, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, it was under the patronage of the Minister for Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, that the campaign was launched, in the presence of the Ambassador of France, the Ambassador of the EU and 150 journalists.
All the partners are now mobilising to post the video on their social media pages. It has already been watched by 360,000 people and shared more than 12,000 times. And the campaign does not stop there: next week the video will be shown on the national television channels and after that there will be posters on the underground and in the street promoting positive messages and providing useful information for women and girls.