CAIRO – 8 November 2021: A new step towards combating sexual harassment was adopted in Egypt by introducing awareness curriculum for fourth grade for the first time, educating children how to protect themselves from the abuse.
The move was hailed by many people as it comes as part of the country's efforts to combat the abuse both legally as well as educationally.
Paragraphs of the curriculum were circulated on social media, written in Modern Standard Arabic (Classic Arabic), and explaining for the children their body boundaries, and to scream for help or wave using their hands if someone touches their private parts of the body.
“And then run away immediately, and head to a safe place, and that’s because you are special and your body is special and has its privacy,” read the excerpt. It also explained to the children how to differentiate between kind embrace from parents, and uncomfortable ones.
“The touch that makes you feel uncomfortable is “unkind” touch, and when you feel this unkind touch or that there is something wrong, you have to tell your parents immediately, and tell those who are harming you with their unkind touches to stop,” added the excerpt.
During his show on Egyptian TV, Anchor Youssef el-Housseiny described the wording of the curriculum excerpt about sexual harassment as “difficult” for a child to understand alone without assistance, saying that “such awareness curriculum should be easy, in order to achieve the desired effect.”
He further suggested using supportive video materials designed for children to better explain the idea.
For her part, Professor of educational psychology Maysa Fadel said in a phone call with El-Housseiny that teachers are the ones responsible for simplifying the curriculum for the children.
Fadel spoke about the move to incorporate anti-harassment lessons in school curriculum as a great step to educate children about the abuse, “which is the worst experience a child can face, and could lead him to lose trust in others.”
She also highlighted the role of the parents in starting at early age to teach their children about their body parts and how to protect their boundaries before they start school.
“Parents can use alternative names to refer to private parts of the body, so it is easier for the children to understand and learn how to protect themselves,” she added.
Many rights groups have called on parents and the government to start educating children about sexual harassment, especially after incidents of child abuse were reported, including the famous case of the Maadi child molestor who deliberately touched the 12-year-old girl's body improperly.
The molestor was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which he appealed later, over commiting indecent assault against the girl. The law said "in case the age of the victim is less than 18 years old, the penalty shall be hard labor for a period of not less than seven years."