Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Eriksen

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Salazar


Sexual harassment in Cairo's public spaces is a symptom of infringement upon women’s rights in Egypt. Which is ingrained in the socioeconomic context, cultural, and traditional norms of the society. This grant proposal and background research proposes the construction of an extensive anti-sexual harassment infrastructure base in Egypt. The infrastructure platform is built on an evidence-based strategy and guided by recognized best practices.

The platform is geared towards alleviating the symptoms of sexual harassment in Cairo's public spaces by constructing the urgently required, but currently missing, national mechanisms which are necessary to prevent, report, prosecute, and provide survivor services for victims of sexual harassment.

In addition to the immediate perceived causes and effects of sexual harassment in Egypt there is also deep-rooted ecological factors that must be considered. These ecological factors, on an individual level, both biological and personal, include the fact that approximately 97% of Egyptian girls witness female gentile mutilation (FGM) in a publicized fashion between the ages 4 & 10. The practice of FGM, may have indoctrinated little boys and little girls, from an early age, that it is socially acceptable to inflict physical and psychological pain and suffering upon the female. FGM carried out at this age, as opposed to male circumcision, which is carried out during early infancy, allows for the neurological trauma that is generated leaves a lasting imprint.

On a family level, 49% of adolescent rural girls marry before the age of 16. Marriage at this age is internationally recognized as sexual abuse, yet is common practice in rural Egypt. This practice sets a negative precedence for accommodating women's voices, this precedence may last a lifetime.

On a community level, based on the most recent statistically significant surveys, approximately 70% of youth, both male and female, believe women are subordinate to men. This dictates that male must exercise control of resources and decision-making. And, that a girl must do what her brother says, even if he is younger.

On a society level, 86% of surveyed male respondents indicated they would do “nothing” to try and stop sexual harassment if they witnessed it happening to a stranger in public. And finally, even from the moment they are born, the large majority of women in Egypt, because of religious dictates, inherit only half of what a male sibling would. Ceteris paribus, women in Egypt, just by virtue of being female, based on inheritance, are only able to afford a living standard, for themselves and their family that is only half as high as that of their male siblings living standard, unless of course their male sibling is benevolent enough to bestow upon them his own wealth.

All these factors invariable, where they apply, undermine women's status in society and negatively impact attitudes of protecting women from harm and violence, in all its forms, which includes sexual harassment in public spaces.