The most famous demand raised by protesters in the “Arab Spring” was “al-shaʿb/yurīd/isqāṭ al-niẓām” (the people/want /the fall of the regime). Three years later, little progress has been made—outside of Tunisia—in permanently replacing authoritarian regimes with the formal institutions of democracy. However, new forms of activism have emerged that increase citizens’ ability to directly combat pervasive social problems and to successfully pressure official institutions to alter policies. The evolution of activism against public sexual violence in post-Mubarak Egypt is a concrete example. Sexual harassment of women on the streets and in public transportation, widespread before the 25 January uprising, has likely since increased.1 Many women have been subjected to vicious sexual assault at political protests over the last three years. But activism against these threats has also expanded in ways unimaginable during the Mubarak era. Groups of male and female activists in their twenties and early thirties exhort bystanders on the streets to intervene when they witness harassment, and intervene themselves. Satellite TV programs have extensively covered public sexual violence, directly challenging officials for their failure to combat it while featuring the work of antiharassment and antiassault groups in a positive light. These new practices facilitated two concrete changes in the summer of 2014: amendments to the penal code on sexual harassment, and Cairo University's adoption of an antiharassment policy which was developed by feminist activists.
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