Our movement is made up of volunteers, which means they are not available to provide their services all of the time. So we try to target specific, high-risk zones.
Volunteers patrolling a commercial street near Talâât Harb square.
Sexual assaults occur at a higher frequency during holidays because there are more women in the streets. About sixty of our volunteers worked a three-day shift during the Aïd al-Adha holiday [October 26 – 28] around Cairo’s Talaât Harb Square and its surrounding streets. It is a very lively neighborhood, with many clothing stores, restaurants, and movie theatres.
“We caught this boy as he was using his mobile phone to film specific body parts of a girl walking in the street. We brought him to the police, and it all went down fairly quietly.”
“Passersby asked this victim not to file a complaint against her aggressor. Luckily, she did not yield to their demands.”
In three days, we managed to catch five aggressors in the act, and we brought them to the police. Of the five victims, only two accepted to file a complaint.
However, our actions are largely focused on prevention. When we patrol the streets, we try to make our presence felt in order to dissuade inappropriate behavior toward women. We always wear orange and yellow jackets [Editor’s note: for the team leaders], and we introduce ourselves to the local merchants in order to explain what we’re doing and encourage them to work with us.
“There isn’t a standard profile for sexual aggressors, but in Cairo, they are typically unemployed young men that loiter in groups”
When we notice men following a young woman or talking to her in a suspicious manner, we grab them by the shoulder and lead them away. We never use violence against them except in self-defense, because we believe doing so could lead them to try to get revenge. Rather, we try to create a dialogue and to make them feel guilty about how they are acting.
There isn’t a standard profile for sexual aggressors, but in Cairo’s streets, they are typically unemployed young men that loiter in groups. Some of them are as young as ten.