sexual harassment and rape in egypt…

…has been a major problem long before lara logan got there.

back in 2006, an incident very like logan’s happened in cairo only with egyptian women. it was during the eid ul-fitr festival which marks the end of ramadan. here’s one description of what happened:

“The story is as follows for the those of you who didn’t hear about it: It was the first day of Eid, and a new film was opening downtown. Mobs of males gatherd trying to get in, but when the show was sold out, they decided they will destroy the box office. After accomplishing that, they went on what can only be described as a sexual frenxy: They ran around grabbing any and every girl in sight, whether a niqabi, a Hijabi or uncoverd. Whether egyptian or foreigner. Even pregnant ones. They grabbed them, molested them, tried to rip their cloths off and rape them, all in front of the police, who didn’t do shit. The good people of downtown tried their best to protect the girls. Shop owners would let the girls in and lock the doors, while the mobs tried to break in. Taxi drivers put the girls in the cars while the mobs were trying to break the glass and grab the girls out. It was a disgusting pandamonium of sexual assaults that lasted for 5 houres from 7:30 PM to 12:30 am, and it truns my stomach just to think about it.”

u prolly never heard about these incidents ’cause, for one thing, they were never widely reported in the egyptian news (let alone our lamestream media). at least not at first. not until some egyptian bloggers starting reporting on it. this was one of the first instances when egyptian bloggers really flexed their muscles. (go bloggers!)

in fact, sexual harassment and rape of women in egypt has been increasing over the last few years. (or maybe reporting has increased?)

a lot of explanations have been put forward for why.

exposure to things from western culture, like scantily clad women, affecting egyptian men’s brains in a negative way. actually, there’s prolly an element of truth to that. it doesn’t follow what works ok-ish in our society (western women don’t get harassed 24/7 even though they go around relatively scantily clad) will work ok everywhere else on the planet. egyptians are different. they have different biologies, different histories, a different cultural background. suddenly being able to download free pr0n whenever they like might just unhinge a lot of egyptian men.

another reason suggested for the upswing in bad behavior by egyptian men is that they’re frustrated ’cause it’s become so expensive to marry and settle down these days. egyptian men are, the thinking goes, sexually and reproductively frustrated. i think there’s something to that, too. having to delay marriage until ur in ur 30s and having little access to women otherwise. sure they’re frustrated!

the particular incidents of the eid festival 2006 and lara logan happened during emotionally heated, pumped-up-on-testosterone moments. the eid festival celebrates the end of a month long time of abstinence (including sex) and, in the 2006 case, the young men were all worked up after their looting of the movie theater. in logan’s case, the men there were obviously worked up after a couple of weeks of anti-mubarak protests. like i said over @ ferdinand’s:

“my first thought, too, when i read about this was wtf was she doing there?!?! no, that is NO place for a woman to be. no place at all. especially not an attractive woman! h*ll, i wouldn’t even want to be in a crowd celebrating a lakers nba championship win let alone in a crowd of middle eastern men pumped up on testosterone! good lord.”

i’d like to throw out there one other reason why i think sexual harassment has been increasing in egypt lately. it’s prolly ’cause increasing numbers of women have been moving to urban areas (i.e. away from their homeplaces) for college or work or whatever. they’ve been moving to places where they are not very related to the men, unlike back at home.

recall about the effects of inbreeding on social behaviors:

“the MORE you are related to your relatives (for instance, ’cause ur clan members have been inbreeding for generations), you’d think the MORE you’d favor them.”

and, conversely, in an inbred society, the more you are NOT related to your neighbors, the more you are likely to treat them harshly.

egyptians have become more mobile and are increasingly moving to urban areas away from their extended families. but the level of inbreeding has not yet caught up with (or, rather, ratcheted down to) this new living arrangement. the population is still one of very inbred clans, but the members of the clans have become more disperse. i would think this would create all sorts of problems for a while. i would expect that all sorts of crime have gone up, not just sexual harassment.

this dispersal of clan members into urban settings probably (at least partially) explains the increased sexual harassment AND the increasing use of the hijab in the country:

as stanley kurtz wrote about the sitch in afghanistan:

“The Taliban’s code of womanly behavior was intentionally directed toward the cities. The aim was to ‘purify’ those areas of Afghanistan that had been ‘corrupted’ by modernization. But the Taliban never bothered to enforce its rules in traditional areas. Actually, in most Afghan villages, women rarely wear the burka. That’s because villages in Afghanistan are organized into kin-oriented areas, and the veil needs wearing only when a woman is among men from outside of her kin group. A rural woman puts on a burka for travel, especially to cities. Yet just by exiting her home, a woman in a modern city inevitably mixes with men who are not her kin. That’s why the Taliban prohibited the modernized women of Kabul from so much as stepping onto the street without a male relative. So the real problem with the veil in Afghanistan was the Taliban’s attempt to impose the traditional system of veiling on a modernizing city. Yet, remarkable as it may seem, many modernizing urban women throughout the Middle East have freely accepted at least a portion of the Taliban’s reasoning. These educated women have actually taken up the veil — and along with it, Muslim fundamentalism.”

mating patterns matter. biology matters. ’nuff said!

update 02/23: see also logan wasn’t alone

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