An 18-year old Egyptian contestant on Middle Eastern hit series “Arabs Got Talent” recently took the stage and began to rap: “My body is only mine.” This brave young woman is Myam Mahmoud, and she uses her art to spur discussions on women’s lives in the Middle East. Although she did not win the televised contest, Mahmoud hopes to inspire other women to speak out against violence and harassment.
She tells The Associated Press that headlines in Egypt have discouragingly avoided women’s issues, giving space to political discussions over pressing social concerns. She constructs her lyrics based off of her own experience and encourages other women to send her their personal stories, giving voices to individuals who might otherwise be silenced. She explains, "Many girls want to say what I rap about, but they cannot for many reasons. I speak for them."
In April, the United Nations reported that a whopping 99.3 percent of women in Egypt had experienced sexual harassment. Alarmingly, conservative members of certain religious groups blame the victims of sexual violence for “mixing with men,” encouraging women to take more subservient roles in society.
The work of activists like Mahmoud are helping to combat the problem. Some Egyptian women have started to participate in street protests, protected by volunteers. Mahmoud underscores the fact that religion need not dictate the oppression of women: she herself wears a veil, explaining "religion has never been a constraint.” Hopefully Mahmoud’s work will spur further and more complex discussions on the lives and concerns of women around the world.
Thanks to ABC News
Image via Hip Hop DX
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.