by Juliette Fournil on March 31, 2015 - 8:02am
During the Women's Week in France, the TV Channel Arte has proposed a number of film tackling the issue of the status of women. 678 is an Egyptian film directed by Mohamed Diab focusing on the sexual harassment of women in Egypt. I wanted to write something about it because I found it very interesting.
The plot :
The movie alludes to the life of three Egyptian women of different social backgrounds who get publicly harassed. Fayza is the first we meet. She is a low income government employee who gets harassed in a bus (numbered 678) when she comes back at home. When she is at home she resists her husband's attemps to have sexual relationship but she doesn't explain why.
Then, Seba. She is a middle class jeweller designer who gets harassed by a group of men in a stadium, it was so crowded that her husband was unable to help her. After that, her husband was unable to live with what happened, so she was alone with no one to take care of her emotionally. That is why she decides to divorce from her husband and starts a fighting against harassment class for women on TV.
Finally, the film focuses on Nelly, a humourist and call center employee who also gets harassed verbally on a call as well as physically on the street by a driver. When he finally leaves her, she runs behind the trucks. She and the crowds pull the driver out and bring him to the police. She appears as the first Egyptian woman who files a report for harassment.
So the movie (2010) is perfectly timed to coincide with the massive protests that recently engulfed Egypt. Indeed, we mainly talked about revolutions politically but we didn’t mention so much social changes that accompanied them. Yet this was the first time we saw women from all backgrounds in street protests and publicly express demands! For example, in Yemen, women demonstrating alongside men were threatened with sanctions, but instead of returning home, they decided to march on their side, respecting their way the need for single-sex … This phenomenon of appropriation of the public sphere is quite new in the Arab-Muslim world. Egypt has also recently decided that the harassment against women in the street or on public transport - sexual touching, but also rape – becomes a crime. Actually, it was time: according to a recent international study of Thomson-Reuters (2013), the country is at the last position concerning women’s rights and 99% of the Egyptian women confess that they are often harassed. Indeed, the film, based on real events (the first trial of a woman against her abuser of 2008), has been a shock wave in Egypt since it dealt with a very sensitive subject. But, one might think that it will evolve gradually, as in the rest of the Middle East.
I advise you to see this remarkable film : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COesFcvkXaE