Public spaces

Egyptian women turn to female bodyguards for protection from sexual harassment

Naglaa Mohammed. (Aswat Masirya)

“One hit below the belt is enough. My job is to protect women and that’s it.”

Naglaa Mohammed, 41, takes her job as a personal bodyguard seriously. “At home I keep my femininity, but with my job, people have to respect and fear me with the way I look,” she in an interview with the Egypt-based news site Aswat Masirya. “They have to know that I am a female bodyguard, not just a woman.” In news organization’s profile, Mohammed explains that she was hired by a friend to protect her from sexual harassment in public places – a common problem in Egypt, as 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have reported being harassed, according to a United Nations report – and has since made the duty her career. The women she protects are Egyptian or “Gulf women who are holidaying” who prefer a woman companion to serve as protection. While on the job, she wears a pressed uniform and baseball cap.

Mohammed is contracted with a company that trains women in self-defense and martial arts, filling a gap where women could serve a security forces in places frequented by Egyptian women, like shopping centers and hotels. She said she has only had to initiate physical contact once, when a man harassed her daughter – who hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps, Mohammed said.

Read the full story at Aswat Masirya.

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