Confronting the System v. Maneuvering from Within: A Comparative Analysis of Anti-Harassment Activists' Strategies in Egypt and Jordan Open Access

Truluck, Emilia (2016)

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Street harassment is a growing problem in many Middle Eastern countries between Egypt and the Levant. Although there is a significant amount of feminist organizing against street harassment that is occurring in these countries, there is very little research on the activism strategies employed by Arab feminist activists. This study attempts to address the lack of research on Arab feminist activism in order to illuminate the ways that women create and select strategies to survive and improve their quality of life in different patriarchal structures around the world. In order to address this gap in the literature, I interviewed 14 representatives of organizations attempting to combat street harassment in Egypt and Jordan. I selected Egypt and Jordan as countries of focus for this study because they represent two ends of a spectrum of activism against street harassment in the Middle East: Egypt has been the site of multiple studies on the issue, and is the home of multiple organizations combatting street harassment, while Jordan is a country with very few statistics on harassment and even fewer overt anti-harassment initiatives. Using the data from the 14 interviews, as well as information that I had gathered about the history and structure of feminist civil society in both Jordan and Egypt, I created a theory of nested patriarchal structures, in which the woman was protected and restricted by disciplinary apparatuses of the family, the neighborhood, and the state, to explain why activism against street harassment in Egypt looked so different from activism in Jordan. I concluded that, because the nested patriarchal structure remains strong in Jordan, Jordanian women find it more useful to maneuver within the patriarchal system for protection from street harassment. Meanwhile, the patriarchal structure in Egypt began to collapse with the 2011 uprising, causing women to lose any protection that they once gained from the state's disciplinary apparatus while simultaneously opening a space for them to directly combat harassment. I aim for this analysis of these two different modes of activism to be useful for transnational feminists who seek to learn more about ongoing feminist activism in the Middle East.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter 1: Literature Review. 4

Defining Civil Society. 6

Women's Movements in Civil Society. 11

Street Harassment as a Priority of Middle Eastern Women's Movements..13

Chapter 2: Methodology. 16

Conducting the Interviews. 18

Analyzing the Interviews. 19

Chapter 3: Introduction to Feminist Civil Society in Egypt and Jordan. 20

Civil Society Regulation in Egypt and Jordan. 21

History of Feminist Civil Society in Egypt and Jordan. 26

Contemporary Trends in Feminist Civil Society in Egypt and Jordan. 34

The Problem of Street Harassment in Egypt and Jordan. 38

Analyzing the Activism. 45

Chapter 4: Activism Against Street Harassment in Egypt. 46

HarassMap. 47

El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture. 54

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. 62

Nazra for Feminist Studies. 68

Binat Masr Khat Ahmar. 74

Basma. 77

Ded Taharosh. 81

Igmadi. 85

Summary. 87

Chapter 5: Activism Against Street Harassment in Jordan. 89

Dr. Rula Quawas. 90

SheCab. 93

TechTribes. 98

Leaders of Tomorrow. 104

King Hussein Foundation Information and Research Center. 109

Takamol. 111

Summary. 114

Chapter 6: Conclusion. 115

Bibliography. 129

Appendix A: Visual Model of Egypt's Patriarchal Structure. 139

Appendix B: Visual Model of Jordan's Patriarchal Structure. 140

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