Courage under fire

67-cairo-678 Film: Cairo 678 Arabic, 2010

In 2008, Noha Roushdy won Egypt’s first-ever sexual harassment case. Sherif Gomaa Gibrial was sentenced to three years in jail for harassing Roushdy in broad daylight. The road to justice was not easy. From uncooperative onlookers at the crime scene who tried to save the accused to antipathetic cops, she had to face injustice at every turn.

Cairo 678 is about three women—Fayza, Nelly and Seba—from different social milieus, who are victims of sexual harassment. For Fayza, a low income employee, groping and inappropriate touches are part of her daily drudgery as she takes a bus to work. Seba, a designer, was subjected to brutal sexual assault by a group of men after a football match, and Nelly, modelled on Roushdy, was viciously attacked on the road. They receive little help and empathy from those around them for whom harassment is no matter to be discussed in public. Their paths intercept when they decide to stand up and put an end to the physical and psychological trauma they face.

The movie, written and directed by Mohamed Diab, is not just about Fayza, Seba, Nelly or Roushdy; it is a tribute to the resolve of every woman who musters the courage to fight her harasser. A story that will resonate with women of every culture, country and time, Cairo 678 was screened at a series of international festivals.