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Street Harassment in Cairo: A Symptom of Disintegrating Social Structures

FM Peoples


This article analyzes the increasing spread of male-to-female harassment
on the streets of Cairo. The aim is to first describe, define and contextualize street harassment as a social phenomenon and
secondly to suggest some main social factors that provoked the development of the problem in the first place. This analysis takes a
particular look at the correlation between street harassment and
decades of structural and institutional changes which have had an
impact on patriarchy as a defining system for the relationship between
men and women. Historically in Egypt, patriarchy was not only fundamental for spatial and gendered organization within the private family sphere,
but also for demarcating movement and participation in the public
domain. In recent decades, high unemployment rates among men
have undermined the conditions for upholding the patriarchal structure.
This article argues that street harassment is symptomatic of high unemployment rates and of a consequentially weakening patriarchal
system. It identifies the everyday spectacle of male-to-female
street harassment as indicative of the frustration and difficulties
in adhering to cultural ideals in a time of immense structural
transformations. These transformations have impaired Egyptian
males’ ability to fulfil their traditional role as economic providers,
something which has resulted in their lack of achievement and demasculinization.

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eISSN: 1024-0969