The disturbing tale of a pair of ripped jeans

The disturbing tale of a pair of ripped jeans
2 min read
27 May, 2016
A picture posted online of a pair of jeans ripped close to the rear has triggered disturbing responses from the Egyptian public.
Ninety-nine percent of women in Egypt complain of being sexually harassed [Getty/Facebook]

Over the past week, an image displayed at a clothes shop in Egypt of a pair of ripped women's jeans has caused a stir in local media.

The denim trousers were on display at a Cairo store of Spanish clothing retailer Pull & Bear and have become the the centre of a storm on social values and sexism due.

Although it is only a small tear, its location close to the rear of the wearer has sparked outrage.

In conservative Egypt - where 99 percent of women complain of being sexually harassed - wearing jeans that expose any area of flesh is often a bad idea in Egypt.

But with the rip close to the rear - and judging from sickening and violent online comments about the picture -wearing the jeans in Egypt could put women in real danger of being attacked.

Local media took to the streets of Cairo to find out what the average Egyptian thought of the jeans.

"If I saw a girl wearing that in the street I'd rape her," said a young man called Hosam Bahbah.

"I'd beat her in the head with my shoe," said an elderly man.

"I'd spit in her face," said another.

One man with a Mohican said he did not see a problem with the ripped jeans until he found out it was designed for women. "No way then, she'd be a tramp, I've got a big rip in my jeans and I'm embarrassed to go around in them," he said.

An Egyptian vlogger uploaded a long video to YouTube complaining about the jeans.

"What is this immorality? A cut on the bum? What a disaster! If you think this is stylish why don't you just walk around naked," she said.

On the other side of the spectrum, many women have expressed alarm over the "public shaming".

"It's absolutely fine to be bothered by a pair of jeans, but if one doesn't like an article of clothing, one just doesn't need to wear them," wrote a local women's magazine.

"Expressing your point of view is not only okay, it's healthy, as long as it doesn't include shaming other people. No one said those pair of pants will be worn by all women in Cairo," it added.

Egypt has one of the world's highest rates of sexual harassment.

In April, a public Egyptian university launched a new special unit to fight sexual harassment. It aimed at raising awareness about harassment, offer counselling, and encourage action against incidents on campus.

Although the campaign was lauded, there is still a long way for the rest of Egypt to go before women feel safe on the streets - whatever they are wearing.