Sexually related violence is a universal problem that is as serious as it is widespread. One in three women in the world has been subjected to it. Egypt is second only to Afghanistan in the statistics. According to a UN study from 2013, “virtually all Egyptian women have been exposed to sexual harassment.” Although the country has had its MeToo moments since that study, the effects have been transient.
In Egypt, verbal sexual harassment is more or less regarded as “flirting”, not as harassment. This makes many women afraid to report any incidents. They want to avoid being shamed even more – or even blamed. The guilt often falls on the victim.
Lina Geoushy was sexually harassed on the street, in the home and at work in Cairo. Outraged by the prevalence and normalization of the problem, she felt a need to protest in solidarity with other women against sexually related oppression. On Instagram, she appealed to other women in Cairo with similar experiences to her own. She met them, interviewed and photographed them, adding their testimonies in handwritten text to the photographs and, at the women’s request, gold masks to protect their identities. The project Shame Less مش عيب: A Protest Against Sexual Violence was born – and it has earned her a number of international awards.
Lina Geoushy, born in 1990, divides her time between Cairo and London. She graduated in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography in 2021 from the London College of Communication. For her previous project Breadwinners, about Egyptian women in the shadow of the patriarchy, struggling to support their families, she was named Documentary Photographer of the Year by Britain’s Royal Photographic Society in 2019.