Friday, November 8, 2013

Egyptian NASA Scientist Essam Heggy: Sexual Harassment The Real Reason For Women's Illiteracy In Egypt


NASA scientist Essam Heggy, who serves as the scientific advisor to Egypt's president, was recently interviewed by several Egyptian TV channels, and spoke about the need to reform relations between men and women in Egyptian society. "The only absolute right enjoyed by Egyptian women is the right to get married, said Heggy, who called to "confront the 'black box' of customs and traditions" and to "plant the seeds of tolerance."
Following are excerpts from the interviews, which aired on Al-Hayat TV on August 25, on Al-Kahera Wal-Nas TV on September 2, and on CBC TV on September 28, 2013:
Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV

Al-Hayat TV, August 25, 2013
Essam Heggy: "We are in need of education, and we need to fight our society's erroneous customs. I have said, more than once, that our problem as a society is that we are afraid to confront the "black box" of traditions and customs. We do not exercise any introspection, and we don't acknowledge that some things stem from our customs, not our religion.
"I have said that the most important thing that we examine is the reform of relations between men and women in Egyptian society. These distorted relations are evident in all aspects of our daily life. Fanaticism is part of this flaw, and so is the lack of dialogue."
Interviewer: "Was the Egypt you left 17 years ago more tolerant than today?"
Essam Heggy: "Today, we are more fanatic, because the values of tolerance and equality are not a wild flower that can grow just anywhere. If we do not plant the seeds of tolerance in universities and schools and at home, we will not find them anywhere. We claim to be a tolerant people. Do we really teach tolerance at school or at university? Do you exercise it at home? [...]
"For years we have been fighting the wrong enemy. For years we have been talking about conspiracies, betrayal, and collaborators, while the real enemy – the one we should be fighting – is ignorance. Today, we have begun fighting it in schools and universities. This is the only enemy with which you cannot build friendly relations. Even with an infidel you can establish a friendship, but not with ignorance – either you kill it, or else it will kill you." [...]
Al-Kahera Wal-Nas TV, September 2, 2013
Essam Heggy: "When the military steps in, it is viewed in the West as a setback to democracy. In the West, they view the military in a different light than we do. For them, the army symbolizes the U.S. Civil War, and World War II in Europe. We were nations living under colonialism. For us, the army symbolizes liberation. The original function of the Arab armies – from Morocco to Iraq – was to fend off the colonialist powers. This is something in our culture that they do not understand. Even when we explain this to them, they do not understand. [...]
"The first thing we must do, if we want to reform this country, is to reform the ailing relations between men and women in Egyptian society."
Interviewer: "You are saying this for the sake of our science..."
Essam Heggy: "Let me explain why I, the scientific advisor to the president, am talking about this. A young man, aged 20-35, working for me at NASA, deals with complex problems and invests his mental capacities in creative innovation, and this is how we build all those great spacecrafts.
"What does a guy here, aged 20-35, deal with? He deals with engagement presents, dowries, marriage... He struggles just to find his partner in life. Given all this, what can we expect of him? Can we expect him to be creative? That's unrealistic." [...]
CBC TV, September 28, 2013
Essam Heggy: "I had never imagined the real reason for the spread of illiteracy among women. I always thought that the main reason was poverty."
Interviewer: "Because women must work or get married..."
Essam Heggy: "I thought that the second reason must be shortage of schools. Obviously, these arsons are important, but the main reason, about which there is a consensus, is the sexual harassment in the streets and in schools, as well as the backward customs and traditions, according to which girls should not go to school when they grow up. This is the main reason for girls dropping out of junior high."
Interviewer: "Sexual harassment?"
Essam Heggy: "Yes. The issues we are dealing with are secondary. We talk about sexual harassment maybe one minute every month, because we have more "important" issues, which we debate and which receive worldwide attention. But this is not enough – harassment has become the primary cause for girls giving up on high school and university education. [...]
"The only absolute right enjoyed by Egyptian women is the right to get married. The right to education – some say yes, and some say no. The right to work – some say yes, and some say no. The right to travel – some say yes, and some say no. There is a consensus only about marriage. Is it conceivable that in the 21st century, the primary role of half our society should be marriage? Is it conceivable that the greatest industry of our society today is the industry of marriage?" [...]



Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment