Last year when I wrote about being groped in a popular Egyptian coffee chain I was amazed at the response. More people read that post than anything I wrote during the January 25 revolution and many individuals and several anti-sexual harassment initiatives reached out to me to offer support or discuss how this experience could empower others. Even now, women in Cairo sometimes tell me they read about the sexual harassment smoothie before they met me.
I’m reminded again today how much more traction my experiences with this topic get than almost anything else I write or film for work. Unfortunately, I think that speaks to what a massive and common problem it is.
Below are the picture and message I posted on Facebook just to thank a family and as a way of putting a recent incident behind me. The response from so many, from friends and family to strangers, people living in Egypt and those abroad, affirmed to me that the issue spans gender, age, race, culture and personal connection. It seems like many want or need to hear these kinds of stories. And when they reach out to me, I feel this overwhelming sense of community and solidarity that further empowers us to face harassment however we can.
I was shooting photos yesterday for Mada at Azhar Park, which was filled with thousands of people celebrating the Egyptian spring holiday Sham el-Nessim. Toward the end we were at the edge of a crowd when I felt a guy cup my ass. I whipped around and he smiled at me. Then I shoved him quite hard and some women stepped in to separate us (which was good for him). We moved and he came up to me again and started yelling and I just told him to fuck off. A few minutes later this family approached me and the father said he saw the whole thing and was glad I hit the guy. Then his daughters gave me flowers and his wife asked if I would pose for a picture with her. This is the second time I’ve hit a man for harassment and both times other men applauded my reaction. I’m sure this family has no idea that their gesture turned the whole thing around into something positive, but here’s my anonymous thank you to them anyway.