Gender segregation seems like the easy way out. How would someone harass a woman if she’s not there? But an honest approach to the problem is essential, and isolating women would be merely be treating the symptoms, not curing the disease.
There are many reasons behind sexual harassment: poverty, bad education, unemployment, sexual frusturation due to the social unacceptance of premarital sex and the difficulty of marriage due to economic reasons and a patriarchal society where women don’t enjoy equal rights just to name a few.
Ahmed Salah, the founder of a campaign called “Respect Yourself”, designed to target sexual harassers, believes that sexual harassment is a form of violence and anger at the current economic and political conditions that men bring against what they perceive as a “weaker” creature.
“People are unemployed, poor, and even if they’re not; they still suffer from the country’s bad conditions and want to bring their anger against someone, and this someone is the creature they perceive as weaker,” says Ahmed.
Hamdi Abdul Azim, an Egyptian economist, said in a conference last year: “Economic conditions and culture don’t allow people to satisfy their sexual needs in a legitimate manner and by mutual consent. Therefore, they sexually harass women in the street because this is where their only interaction with women takes place.”
We should rethink our strategy of fighting sexual harassment because segregation itself is one of the reasons behind it. The more the sight of a woman becomes unusual, the more harassment women will suffer. Additionally, segregation would make women feel more alienated and marginalised in society.