BY RITA PASARELL
Earlier this week, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) reported that a 20 year old woman was shot to death immediately after responding to a street harasser by whom she had been sexually assaulted. No one should have to ignore a sexual assault, and no one should walk in fear because she is accessing a public space. Our hearts and voices go out to this young woman and her loved ones.
As it is in many countries, street harassment has been “epidemic” in Egypt, but “now more women are talking about it,” ECWR’s Nehad Abul Komsan said recently. ECWR has been a strong advocate for harassment victims, gathering research statistics on street harassment and submitting proposed law drafts regarding the problem to Egyptian lawmakers, including Egyptian President Morsi.
Hollaback encourages all women to keep speaking out against street harassment—stories change the world and can shape policy. We urge all governments to take this problem seriously because we agree with ECRW that sexual harassment is a social cancer. In New York, we’re calling upon elected officials to pass a new law that would enable prosecutors to bring felony charges against sex offenders who assault their victims on crowded trains and buses. Add your voice: let your community and elected officials know that you won’t tolerate street harassment.