A Window Into the Lives of Women Living in Cairo
October 25, 2018
One video that really captured my attention featured a woman — Fathiya — speaking directly to the viewer. Her laugh, her tone, her desperation, and the way she opened and closed her mouth, lapping her tongue to make a sort of clicking sound at the end of each sentence, has a way of making the viewer feel a perhaps necessary discomfort. She repeats the words “I’m old” and begs the viewer for money to afford to go to Hajj, doubling down on her unwavering faith in God, despite her years of hardship. At one point, she offers the viewer some chocolate as a gift and then demands money, asking for 20 Egyptian pounds in exchange. I couldn’t help but feel as though she were speaking to me directly, and in not giving in to her pleas, I became complicit in her hardship.
The videos included women from all walks of life, discussing a number of issues, personal and political, across the city of Cairo. One woman talks about street harassment and how years ago, her mother had hired a group of three women to yell at the men who harassed her. Now, though, she says things are different. Now, they have HarassMap, an app that tells women throughout Egypt which streets to avoid, but the woman in front of the camera laments that this isn’t enough. She doesn’t want to have to actively avoid certain streets, and she wishes the government would use the data in the app to make efforts to stop harassment altogether.