In Cairo Egypt, public transportation, including tuk-tuks [three wheeled taxi], were identified as public spaces where women and girls experience sexual harassment on a daily basis.
For Mohamed Nemr [pictured below], a twenty-four-year-old tuk tuk driver from the slums of Mansheyet Nasser in the western part of Cairo, Egypt, the streets belonged to men, and women’s place was at home. Until recently, he didn’t think that women and girls had a right to access public spaces without the fear of sexual harassment.
Through the UN Women Safe Cities Program, Mohamad participated in various training sessions on self-expression, including acting, singing, painting and sculpturing. Since then, Mohamed’s views on women have changed.
“I realised that I was the cause of the problem,” he says. “It was me who didn’t know how to treat others. The training [sessions] have taught me how to express my feelings and now I can manage my frustrations and violent tendencies in more positive ways.”
Today, Mohamed is proud of his new role as an advocate for women’s rights. He says, “I volunteer in an anti-harassment campaign that talks to tuk-tuk drivers and other community members about how every woman has the right to walk on the street without being harassed. Our messages include women’s right to choose how to dress, without having anyone invading their personal space. We also distribute stickers saying, ‘My Tuk Tuk is Safe’ from sexual harassment.”
“Through art, I learned, understood and felt that women have rights in the same way that I do. I learned to respect women.”
“[Mohamed’s] personality changed as he went through the program; now he has better relations and greater respect for women. Some women even take his phone number and call him for their tuk-tuk rides because they have had a safe journey to their destination and he has treated them with respect,” said Ahmed Nakabassi, UN Women Program Assistant in Egypt.