In December 2020, in response to the #MeToo wave that Egyptian women led in June of the same year, I decided to start this project. In protest and solidarity with other women against sexual violence, my initial intention was to fight the stigma that surrounds reporting sexual assault. The fact that more women are sharing their stories resulted in many of us realising the magnitude of our ongoing, deep-rooted personal and collective traumas. This is especially the case when speaking up is punished by victim blaming, shaming and, eventually, silence.
Through Instagram, I put up an open call asking for participant involvement in a project about the stories of women, including mine, of sexual violence in different public and private spaces in Cairo. I met the participants a couple of times and had lengthy exchanges with them prior to taking photographs. Rather than a classic documentary approach, I chose to incorporate different elements that reflect the prevalence and scale of the issue. I layered the environmental portraits I made with the participants with their handwritten text and gold masking (to protect their identities, as per their request). The construction of the images reflects our shared journey and the evolution of my relationship with them, and with myself, regarding the issue. The build-up of the narrative as well as the dialogue between the images and the text were essential to navigating such a traumatic endemic issue. Some women even chose to pass on my contact details to others who might be interested in participating in the project. This support group that evolved organically made me feel I belong, it made me feel at home.