In several weeks I will begin my second and final year at UCSB. To say this past year was amazing does not do it justice, for it was much more than that. Challenging, difficult, exciting, full; those are a few descriptions I could tag along to my experience there. Learning is exhilarating for me.
Several classes embodied what I would consider the challenging areas of life last year, focusing mostly on women’s roles and places in society. I have always been very passionate for women’s rights. Women, like men, have been made in the likeness of their Creator; and though bearing the weight of the curse and all it’s awful implications, we see that Christ our Lord became a curse for us, and He now lifts that off of women through the Gospel. What good news.
Protesters hold signs reading “The streets and the square are for women and men” in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in July. Source
One particular class was a study on sexual harassment towards women in Egypt. The UN gives a long definition of sexual harassment, but it can be summed up as: any unwelcome sexual advance. I will spare you the details of the class, but the findings were quite shocking given the highly “religious” nature of the population. In short, if you are a woman in Egypt, it does not matter if you adorn yourself with a full hijab or modest modern attire; all women suffer from sexual harassment. To go outside means being subjected to constant cat-calls and demeaning language, from men old and young alike. If that is not enough, a woman in Egypt is highly likely to have to give sexual favors to potential or current employers to secure employment and will also likely encounter physical harassment while at home, on the streets or taking public transit.
Though taught from a secular perspective, this class prompted me to wrestle through these realties in prayer. As a believing woman, what should my response be? What should I do when I am facing cat-calls and unwanted remarks? And most importantly; how does the gospel dictate my response?
If you are interested in learning more about Egypt, here is a link to an article written by the professors of my class.