Since last Tuesday, the bullying of student Habiba Zahran for wearing a dress has gone viral. The President of Tanta University, Mahmoud Zaky, has referred the incident to the prosecution office as an internal investigation of verbal harassment.
We are happy to see promising changes in taking levels of harassment seriously in Egypt, as spokesperson of the university, Walid al-Ashry, said that the prosecution office will punish any invigilator who verbally harassed the student.
As soon as she entered the university, Habiba Zahran said that everyone was commenting on her outfit, and even one woman stopped to tell another woman to “come and watch.”
Other comments included “have you forgotten to wear pants?” and “you used to wear the hijab and were respectful but now decided to become shameless?” Source – Egypt Today
The bullying intensified, and many invigilators and employees gathered to come and watch, including men and women.
Religion started becoming a source of relevance, as Zahran was asked whether she was Muslim or Christian.
As the matter escalated, the verbal harassment reached the prosecution office, and the matter is currently under investigation.
Despite many advancements in the protection and rights of women from verbal, sexual, and physical harassment, we still have a long way to go. For a student in a university to be bullied for her attire, to be asked about her religion as though it had anything to do with what she was wearing, and for what she was wearing to be a place of someone else’s concern and more so, make them feel entitled to comment on it, there is definitely a lot wrong. The matter has become so normalized that we have lost touch with how outside of normality it is. It is great that we are taking action, but more importantly, we must continue to oppose this system of thinking until we have reached a different place. A place where a woman can walk comfortably in the street, rather than tip toe around delicate sensibilities that are in no way sensible.