When Nadeen Ashraf created her Instagram page @assaultpolice the evening before an exam, she did not know that her actions would come to spearhead Egypt’s #MeToo movement. In her inaugural post, Ashraf named and identified a serial assaulter, detailing the man’s history and dangerous position. Looking back, Ashraf commented on the post with the words to start a revolution:
“Every time a woman opened her mouth, someone taped it shut. I wanted to stop that.”
In a world where activism spreads online, Ashraf’s account quickly garnered international attention. The attention turned towards the lack of accountability in Egypt’s protection of women’s rights and the culture surrounding sexual assault and survivor stories. With a United Nations study in 2013 finding that 99 percent of women in Egypt had experienced harassment or violence in their lifetime, many applauded Ashraf’s efforts to provide a safe platform. As more women came forward, sharing experiences where their voices were masked or shamed into the shadow, pressure on the Egyptian authorities mounted into a series of arrests.
Despite the new spotlight awareness of Egypt’s sexual assault endemic, people worldwidecan still show their support of the movement by sharing the information and supporting grassroots women’s rights movements in Egypt. Social media has proved invaluable in these efforts. Accordingly, women around the world have used Instagram’s platform to make similar accounts, giving voice to experiences hidden by power and corruption.
As the leading digital platform and online community for creatives, Arts Help stands in support of the women’s rights movements globally and in Egypt. We acknowledge that the online media space plays a vital role in spreading awareness and aims to utilize its highly engaged publishing platform to serve such causes. With a network of digitally-based creators, industry professionals, and new international billboards, we continue to contribute to the visibility and messaging of social activism.
In response to the rising Egyptian #MeToo movement, Arts Help Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Sophie Brussaux illustrated her support by painting a thought-provoking piece reminiscent of Ashraf’s own words of having the mouths of brave women taped. Arts Help and Brussaux believe in utilizing art as a vehicle for social change and encourage other artists to do the same. Brussaux’s painting features Nadeen Ashraf with a hand covering her mouth, symbolizing the institutional and cultural effort to silence the voices of assault survivors. Brussaux’s work, accompanied by a video of her creative process and a brief explanation, are being broadcast through Arts Help’s robust network, pushing other creatives to take action. They are also featured on billboards in major urban centres, hoping that exposure and foot traffic will encourage public acknowledgement and conversation.
Arts Help will continue using art to uplift activist voices and encourage social change. The situation in Egypt falls under one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal #5 to end gender inequality, and deserves international attention.
The Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” To learn more visit https://www.globalgoals.org/