The Egyptian capital Cairo has been described as the most threatening city for women, according to a report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The survey asked experts on women’s issues in 19 megacities how well women were protected from sexual violence, from harmful cultural practices, and if they had access to good healthcare, finance and education.
The poll of 380 people was conducted online and by phone between June 1 and July 28 with 20 experts questioned in each of the 19 cities with a response rate of 93 percent. The results were based on a minimum of 15 experts in each city.
Cairo, the capital of the Arab world’s most populous country, fared worst globally, followed by Karachi in Pakistan, Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then the Indian capital New Delhi.
Women’s rights campaigners and commentators said women in Cairo faced daily harassment while a weakened economy and high unemployment since the uprising in 2011 had eroded economic opportunities for women and seen health services deteriorate.
There are few statistics on harassment in Egypt. A study conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights in 2008 found that 83 percent of women said they had been sexually harassed, many of them daily, and 62 percent of men admitted to harassing women. Advocates believe the percentage of women harassed is significantly higher.
“The economy has become so bad in the last two, three years that we are suffering a setback in the thinking that women’s issues are not a priority,” said Omaima Abou-Bakr, co-founder of Women and Memory Forum, a non-government organisation set up to fight misconceptions of Arab women.
However Naglaa el-Adly, who is part of Egypt’s National Council for Women, an independent governmental body, believes women’s rights have improved, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declaring 2017 as the “Year of Egyptian women”.
“The Thomson Reuters Foundation study is not the first to identify Egypt as a place hostile to women. The country topped the list of places that are dangerous for women to visit in a Trip.com survey released in August, in large part due to the verbal and sexual harassment that women routinely face there”