This is a translation of a previous post written by Ibrahim Abdella
All of a sudden, he’s stranded at the shoulders and his movement restricted, any attempts to enter are hindered by closing the classroom’s door with his bed, and some stand beside it as to warn of any person approaching. No less than six members gather around him, their tasks split between holding him down for easier access to the next step, untying his belt and the buttons of his school uniform, sliding it down his legs, and attempting to remove his underwear to reveal his “dove”.
What I just described are, in short, the steps taken to “reveal the dove”, and it’s an infamous practice widespread in boys’ schools in several cities, starting at elementary level until high school.
This “practice” aims at one thing, and it’s humiliating the victim through revealing his private parts forcedly in front of everyone, and the boy at the center of this event will be mocked for days to come, if not for the entirety of the school year.
Throughout “revealing the dove”, we find boys playing different parts split between them. There’s the main aggressor who holds the victim down, robbing him of any strength to defend himself, and another who takes off the pants and what’s under it, in addition to the ones who prevent the victim’s friends from reaching and helping him, to the boy playing the “Warner”, detecting any approaching figures. Others, some watching with no more than amusement at a comedic show, and some standing idly, heeding not what they consider tacky humor.
“Revealing the dove” is an attack sexual in nature, happens in groups with all members of the class participating, whether directly or not. The aggressors are the main participators, while other parts happen spontaneously without previous planning.
We could imagine the scale of the psychological effect this event would leave, whether on the victim or any of the participating boys; they are children eleven or older, and they are children who have been raised on mass harassment and assault.
I remembered this practice and its proceedings during a conversation with a friend of mine, a member of “Force Against Sexual Harassment”, and she had recalled how, not long time ago, she used to believe this kind of sexual harassment was done by a specific gang on an already agreed upon basis. But I explained, that simply enough those boys have grown witnessing and participating in this practice, and they have watched it so many times throughout their years in public schools
Public schools for boys in Egypt are much like a battle arena, with kids pushed into it at a young age to be trained and shaped like “gladiators” to do what have been learned by heart. During that period, they bear witness to any and all practices enough to leave deep psychological scars in their beings, and the scale of the damage varies from boy to boy, assisted or limited by the environment each one is surrounded with.
This widespread sexual harassment, group assaults, and the prevailing of a certain language of violence in today’s Egypt, are results of what our boys have gone through during school years, in the shadow of a failing education system, rotten at all levels, and the first steps to fix this situation is studying the ills of the education system and fixing it; not just through building restoration and an increase in salary -which is needed-, but through creating an adequate environment prepared to tackle these issues, limit their prevalence, and eventually outlawing practices that not only scar boys for life, but also encourages them to view it as normal and even acceptable.
If one of the maladies plaguing Arab, and specifically Egyptian, societies today is patriarchy and false notions of masculinity, which leads to actions the majority of its perpetrators -if not all of them- are males, then the first steps to fix our issues is by studying the stages males go through, beginning from their entry into the “wider system”, and acknowledging the kind of toxic effects it leaves on their beings, and more importantly, take action and work against it.
Translated from the Arabic by Najm Nwasi, translator and editor of SolidarityWithEgyptLgbt
you can reach her at TheMusingsOfASyrianGirl