Me too: I was sexually harassed at 11

Following the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, women have been sharing their stories of sexual harassment online using the hashtag #metoo. Here, Shaimaa Khalil writes about her first experience of harassment as a child growing up in Egypt.

There’s one particular day – soon after I turned 11 – that I can’t forget.

I was at my grandparents’ house and for the first time I’d been allowed to go out with a cousin and her friend, without any adults – three girls on our own, out on our first adventure.

“Be careful.

Don’t go too far and don’t spend your money on stupid things,” my grandma warned us. She meant ice cream – and yes, we were planning to spend our money on that.

I was excited, but nervous. This needed to go well if I was to stand a chance of ever going out on my own!

“OK Shaimaa,” I remember thinking. “No falling, no fighting, no losing your money.” I should have added: “No getting sexually harassed by teenage boys.” But how could I know?

In the busy summer streets of Alexandria, we hadn’t realised we were being followed. But three boys walking behind started bumping into us. Then one of them groped me.

All I could do to escape our tormentors was walk ahead as fast as I could, with my cousin and her friend trying to catch up.

But they kept following us.

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