Egyptian women fight harassment - 20 Sep 09

Al Jazeera English
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What should be a leisurely stroll through Cairo's streets, for some women has become more like a gauntlet run.

Last year Egypt's Centre for Women's Rights conducted a survey which revealed that 93 per cent of Egyptian women have endured harassment of some sort at least once.

Campaigners say the male-dominated society leaves women feeling vulnerable and unprotected by traditional forces like the police.

Al Jazeera's Amr el-Khaky met one group in Cairo, Egypt's capital, who are taking the fight into their own hands: they are taking lessons in karate.

Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian writer and activist, told Al Jazeera that almost every woman she knows has been sexually harassed or groped.

"It is no exaggeration to say this is an epidemic," she said.

"This is much more than sexual frustration.

"This is about power, about humiliation, about the way women have been portrayed, not just in the media but also through religious sermons.

" The respect that Islam gives to women ... is missing from a lot of religious discourse in Egypt.

"There are no laws in the Egyptian statute to prevent this from happening. This is what women's activists are fighting for."

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