Citroën accused of normalising sexual harassment in Egypt


French car manufacturer Citroën has attracted criticism and is accused of normalising sexual harassment in an advertisement it recently released.

The advertisement features the pop star Amr Diab, who uses a camera in his car to photograph a woman crossing the road, apparently without her consent. They are later seen driving together.

The advert was released on 03 December but it has been criticised on social media in recent days as critics say the advertisement is yet another example of businesses promoting a culture of sexual harassment in Egypt.

The Egyptian-American journalist Reem Abdellatif described it as “creepy”.

“Who thought it would be a good idea to make an ad that enables sexual harassment in a country where 98% of women reported getting harassed at some point in their lives?” she wrote on Twitter.

Writer Amal Alharithi tweeted: “What’s painful about Amr Diab’s advert is that the entire crew did not realise the mistake. No-one in the crew objected to taking pictures of girls in the streets without their consent. This is so sad.”

A comment on Citroën Egypt’s Instagram account warned the company that men watching the advert might mistakenly believe taking an unsolicited photo of a woman could lead to a date, when in fact they could face prosecution and imprisonment.

Neither Citroën nor Amr Diab have so far commented on the criticism.

In recent years, dozens of women inspired by the #MeToo movement have spoken out on social media about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt.

The country’s parliament approved harsher penalties for sexual harassment in July, amending the penal code to make it a felony and increasing the penalty to a minimum of two years in prison instead of six months, alongside a fine of between US$6,370 (£4,740) and US$12,740 (£9,480).

However, Egyptian authorities have been accused of frequently failing to investigate and prosecute men accused of sexual harassment or assault against women and girls.

A UN study in 2013 found that 99.3% of girls and women in Egypt said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. (Source: BBC)