Posted by: cairoshame | July 20, 2010

Cairo Craigslist Warning

Submitted from SimplyLeanne:

As mentioned on the previous blog, I was waiting to get more information on a scam luring females from other countries for supposedly great jobs in Egypt.

Jane** was looking for a job in Egypt in order to do research for a project. In the meantime, she still needed supplement income in order to finance herself without delving into savings. She looked on Craigslist and applied for a news anchor position with EZZ Media.  Although a Google search will be inconclusive if you search the keywords EZZ Media Egypt. This particular media segment was supposedly a part of EZZ Steel, a major giant in the steel/mining industry in Egypt, with the contact person even using the name of one of EZZ’s executives. EZZ Media was allegedly a start-up station looking to get native English speakers.

Jane came to Cairo where she conducted her interview shortly upon her arrival. On her way out to the Sandpit, she met an Egyptian American who was also interviewing for the same company but as a translator. Both women met with two men named (or at least that’s the given name) Ihab Isisi and Ahmed Ghazi. Ihab was very persistent in trying to get the women to meet him after midnight at After 8 in Downtown.

Other jobs that were posted by this falsified company were for translators and assistants to travel to Dubai. A good friend of mine that is a casting director here even encountered a supposed director attempting to get one of her actresses to come audition for a play. The “director” used a famous director’s company and name and continued the ruse. It wasn’t until my friend became suspicious and called the actual famous director and found it to be a hoax.

I think the lesson here is to be extremely cautious of “name dropping,” as with the two above cases, that seems to be the common theme. Name dropping is like the country’s favorite pastime anyway. As scams and dubious actions such as this happen throughout the world, it is important to use your head. For each potential job, always look up the contact person and company. For instance, if you have been contacted by Drew Brees, HR Dept for Saints Unlimited, type into a google search engine these particular suggestions: “Drew Brees” “Saints Unlimited” Drew Brees HR Drew Brees Saints Unlimited Drew Brees Cairo Drew Brees Egypt Saints Unlimited Egypt The quotation marks narrow down your search, but you can just pick some relative keywords to jumble them all together and comb through a higher number of search results. I understand some of you may be reading this thinking that I’m talking to a pre-schooler, but the fact is, many of you don’t know or never thought about doing a search. And for the most part, employers are googling you, so I suggest you get on board. Also, make sure to constantly check your privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Myspace as it appears they like to revert to default settings which open up your page and pictures to EVERYONE (and ah hem, no potential employer needs to see you doing a keg stand)… Once again, if it sounds too good to be true – it is, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!

* Name changed for privacy purposes

Posted by: cairoshame | November 28, 2009

Under Siege

F., a woman living in Zamalek, reports on the situation there after last week’s football protests:

Police barricades remain in full force. Hundreds of officers in full riot gear pose an intimidating obstacle to the performance of even the most basic tasks such as grocery shopping and catching a cab (the photo is shot out my apartment building door and shows the road I would normally walk to the grocery store).

To do either, I must walk at least a block in any direction under the stares of dozens of loitering young men in imposing black uniforms. They leer and call out in Arabic, which happily I don’t understand, and in English, which unfortunately I do, and in the universal language of lewd gestures, in which I am also fluent. The sudden increase in concentration of gross young men this weekend has changed the tenor of my neighborhood, which is generally upscale and inhabited primarily by foreigners and wealthy Egyptians. Normally, the office boys, market stockboys, currency exchange workers, etc. who hang out on the sidewalks of Zamalek, step out of my way to let me pass, often avert their eyes from mine, and generally keep a respectful distance. However, the crowds of shouting, whispering, giggling, and sometimes groping soldiers seem to have granted permission to the local workers’ basest behavior. Men who have seen me pass their shops and used to greet me as a customer, now leer as I pass and young men who would have jumped out of my path now hold their ground and mutter at me as I hurry by.

This government-sponsored filling of the streets with poorly-supervised, poorly-mannered young men has created a claustrophobic, siege-like feeling that kept me in my apartment most of the weekend and compelled me to travel with a friend when I did venture out. I, thankfully, have not experienced any physical harassment, but it is happening. As his contingent slid the heavy metal pole barricade fences aside to let her pass, one of them reached out and grabbed my friend’s roommate on the ass. This is a crime in Egypt which, if reported to police, is punished by a mandatory three years in prison. But to whom, exactly, do you report sexual harassment, when it is perpetrated by a police officer in full view of twenty other police officers? You don’t report it. You hurry home.

Which is exactly what I wish the government would order the hoard of creepy men in Zamalek to do today: GO HOME.

The anxiety that I and the other women in my neighborhood felt today when we saw that even after two uneventful nights the riot police have maintained their positions, and their suggestive grins, is visceral and real. The stress of police occupation, and particularly, sexually aggressive male occupation, is tangible in Zamalek today. My friends in and around Brazil St. are sleeping poorly, dressing conservatively, not wearing makeup to work, and, in some cases, not going to work to avoid having to pass through the police barricade. Those of us that did go to work are already dreading having to return home at dusk, a time of day which women in Egypt already recognize as emboldening harassers by lending the cover of semi-darkness to their stares, whispers, and touches. Zamalek could use some protection from our protectors. Some spotlights, literal and figurative, would help.

Hey Reuters, NY Times, AP and Co.: Can we get some reporters down here please?

Posted by: cairoshame | November 20, 2009

Algerian Embassy

The violence in Zamalek after Wednesday’s football match against Algeria reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post about the Algerian embassy. The guards there are notorious for harassing women.

Everyone I know agrees that it is truly unpleasant to have to walk up that part of El-Brazil street.

Next time I’m in that part of town I intend to make a formal complaint. If you have also experienced harassment outside the Algerian embassy please consider calling or visiting and making a complaint.



Posted by: cairoshame | November 8, 2009

Horreya Bar

Anyone else always getting unneccessarily touched by the waiter at Horreya Bar downtown? It’s getting annoying.horreya_bar1
All I want is my drink without him leaning on me or touching my shoulder.

Posted by: cairoshame | October 8, 2009

A Tour Guide You Don’t Want

Avoid this tour guide.

Avoid this tour guide.

Beware all potential travelers venturing on a desert safari. I received word of a group that went on a desert safari with the man pictured. While I will remain brief, he was inappropriate to all the women and also took pictures of them exiting the water for personal use – despite their persistence he stop. I believe he has been reported to the proper authorities, but this is a warning for any of you that thought about booking with this company and/or guide:

Ahmed Mouaref

Siwa Oasis (does tours throughout Egypt)

Posted by: cairoshame | October 8, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Harassed? Ma3lesh (Whatever)

Watch out for this man!

Watch out for this man!

I snapped this picture unbeknownst to my friend nor the man helping us. A friend and I were parked outside a café near my apartment, her water hose burst. Immediately a cab came to the rescue, discussing the problem and assuring her that it was easily fixable. As the cab drove away, a man in a 2009 charcoal Kia Cerato began speaking to us and said he was a mechanical engineer and asked if he could take a look. He concurred that it was a small problem and offered to take us to a nearby mechanic to get the part.

Since my apartment was nearby, I asked if he’d like some water. We realized he might be fasting as it is Ramadan, but then saw he was smoking a cigarette. He said he was Christian and he offered to take us to the mechanic. Since we were together and he seemed nice, she said okay.

The mechanic looks at the car and then we take him back to complete his Iftar (first meal of the day at around 6:30 pm). We drive back and wait for the mechanic to call for his return visit. And we wait. And wait. And wait. I begin growing impatient and was starting to feel uncomfortable.

Long story short, as we wait, he begins discussing my friend’s body, how he can offer her a job plus an apartment and wait – inappropriately grabs her chest. Then as she screams “La2a” (NO), he does it again and just says, “Ma3lesh, ma3lesh” while he gropes her chest. She instantly gets out of the car. Angry, humiliated and upset that she froze and didn’t knock the hell out of him.

This happened during Ramadan, Muslim Holy month, and while that might not mean much to some – for the majority of Muslims here – whether it is because they believe it or for show – they respect it. However, I have incurred just as much harassment Ramadan or not, but I guess the difference is you expect it to somewhat subside.

Two years ago for the end of Ramadan celebration, Eid, in downtown, Tahrir Square, hundreds of men became frantic after seeing a dancer and rampaged through the streets ripping off women’s clothes – even women wearing the fully covered niqabs. Women began running in a frenzy begging shop owners to open the doors to escape the pandemonium. If you are able to find a news source detailing the event, please leave it as a comment.

Even going to the police stationed on every corner is virtually of no use as most of them also continue the harassment.

And now I’m angry. I’m angry because Cairoenes will tell you that 10 years ago, women were less covered – with old movies showing ladies in mini-skirts. You know what else they say? That harassment was also far less. More women are fully covered these days and the harassment is on the rise. It’s so bad that one of my other friends was grabbed on the street, onlookers just watched as though it was a screenplay, and she started screaming in distress. No one came to help her until she started screaming “Thief” in Arabic – then the onlookers became an angry mob and chased the perpetrator.

How has this been allowed to grow so out of control that now it is seen as the norm? I said before that moving to a foreign country means you must compromise, but there are some things you should never compromise and this is one of them. I feel as though harassment increases daily the longer I stay.

Posted by: cairoshame | October 7, 2009

Harassment at Opera Metro Station

A few days ago at Opera Metro station, a middle aged man asked me if I spoke English and then started making some inquiry about the metro lines. After a moment I became aware that, while speaking to me, he was fiddling with the zipper of his pants, about to open it. I rushed off and informed the guards at the station, but I doubt that they caught him…

Posted by: cairoshame | October 6, 2009

Harassment by Tahrir Metro Station

Getting on the metro the other day at Tahrir a friend kept feeling something touch her butt. She thought it could be an accident, since it was pretty crowded, but it kept happening.

Watch out in the metro! When you get touched, it’s probably not a mistake.

Posted by: cairoshame | August 18, 2009

Marriott Hotel Guards

Just got the hiss and a cat call from a guard outside the Marriot Hotel in Zamalek.  Busy day, but next time I’ll head in to report it. How stupid do they have to be?

Posted by: cairoshame | August 2, 2009

Stuck in Traffic

Dealing with transportation in Cairo is one of the more frustrating aspects of living in Africa’s largest city. Whether taking a bus, the subway, or a taxi, getting around the city as a single woman can present its challenges.

A few days ago a friend was taking a taxi downtown. The driver was a chatty, younger guy. While his constant stream of talk didn’t present a problem, she became concerned with the fact that the he wasn’t taking a very direct route to down town. As she began to ask what route he was taking that meant they had to go so far out of the way, he dropped his arm to “adjust” the floor mat in the back and instead runs it up her leg. Furious she opened the door and jumped out, screaming “haram” to a small audience of bewildered pedestrians. He sped away before she could get his license or a picture.

Getting stuck in traffic on a hot Egyptian day is bad enough. Getting harassed while in that situation can make even the biggest fans of Cairo want to move.