Warda, Sexual Harassment, and the Online Community

Recently, social media sites have been sprawling with posts and memes about the popular football player of the Egyptian National Team, Amr Warda. Apparently, Warda has a history of sexual harassment that has finally caught up to him. 

Why Does This Matter?

As Egyptian women, harassment (albeit not a light topic) is something that is ingrained into our daily lives. But, this situation is entirely different because Warda is an internationally popular role model. So, when he gets away with several allegations of harassment and his victim is ridiculed, what kind of behavior should that inspire in an 8-year-old boy?  

Throughout these cases, we can see that the core values of our patriarchal society are represented in Warda; he: 1. Repeatedly harassed several girls, 2. Threatened them when he didn’t get his way, and 3. Expected to get away with it every time. He is the Egyptian patriarchal male at his finest, with feet pulled up and lips filled with demands.

What worsens the situation is that Warda has a serious history with sexual harassment. Two years ago, he got fired from the Portuguese club Feirense only a few days into the contract after he harassed the wives of two of his teammates. The Egyptian National Team and its director, Ehab Leheita, did not take any action regarding the matter. 

So, What Happened?

The posts revolve around several sexual harassment allegations that have been ongoing but only recently went viral when the Egyptian-British model Merhan Keller spoke out about Warda’s actions. 

In several screenshots she uploaded to her Instagram, Keller displayed a chat in which Warda replied to a story she posted asking the (possibly rhetorical?) question which later became a popular social media meme: “Boxing? Haha.” 

Warda went on to harass Keller when she wouldn’t respond to him and threatened that he could “Get her number if he wants since she obviously doesn’t know who he is or what he is capable of.” When Keller disclosed their chat’s screenshots on her Instagram (shown below), she received several messages from girls who Warda also harassed this way. 

Reactions?

After Keller’s screenshots went viral, social media was divided between those who were shocked and disgusted with Warda’s actions, and those who -as expected- deemed that the incident was fabricated by Keller for attention. 

The latter’s reaction worked perfectly to reinforce Warda’s arrogant male stereotype; as it was followed by memes and jokes prioritizing Keller’s allegedly “funny looks” over Warda’s history of sexual harassment. 

As for Warda, he only disabled his Instagram account and denied the allegations, (pulled his feet up at the table and puckered his lips.)

Ehab Leheita, the director of the Egyptian National Team, did confess that 4 of the team’s players (including Warda) “flirted” with Keller – although “It wasn’t as serious as social media made it out to be.” But isn’t this the same Warda who got fired by a professional Portuguese club due to harassment charges?! 

Beyond the Current Scandal

What mainstream media left out is that most of the girls Warda harassed didn’t have the same popularity and reach that Keller had in order to make their situation heard. In fact, female-only Facebook groups, like “Her Diary“, are filled with sarcastic posts about how the public community is only just figuring out that Warda is a creep who spams girls on Instagram. 

The online solidarity that social media and Facebook groups like “Her Diary” creates is enough for us to actively mobilize against harassment and create change. It also creates a community where we could support other girls in dealing with similar incidents. However, situations like Warda’s can’t just stay within closed female circles until they fester.

The only reason Warda’s actions spread is the online community. So, the most important thing we could do now is to keep the issue active online throughout all mediums to ensure that these girls’ allegations don’t go forgotten as they would if they were offline.  

More importantly, to demand a satisfactory course of action from ENT director Ehab Leheita and Warda himself. 

Let’s spread the Hashtag #DMsFromWarda to guarantee that situations like this one stay alive, till Egyptian women get the respect they deserve. 

Have you, or anyone you know, been through something similar? 

Let us know in the comments below.

 

About Mariam Salem

I'm big on reflections, fiction, politics, and dogs.

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