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I just returned from Egypt with the same male monopoly of public space as Rita Banerji experiences living in Kalcutta, India. She describes the harassment women experience in her blog as a way men assert their dominance in public so that women don’t feel comfortable even to que up in a government building like the post office. (http://ritabanerjisblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/usa-india-puzzle_0.jpg.) In Egypt, men sit and talk with each other, play board games, pray towards Mecca, and smoke water pipes on the sidewalks, and do jobs that women do in the west like clean hotel rooms. Women on the streets move directly to their destination without any play time. I was able to interview three women activists, demonstrators in Tahrir Square. One of them, a nurse, said men want to keep women looking down rather than straight ahead. Wearing hijab and nicrob also bind women. If men are the problem, they should be required to wear special eye gear, not their victims.  I asked a Pakistani student to videotape public space for me and didn’t see any girls playing sports like the boys were playing cricket, or women hanging out. The few women I saw in Hassan’s video were walking directly to their destination, as in Egypt. I’d like to hear from you about the use of public space where you live and have visited.

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