In the latest chapter of Egypt vs. Women, Governor of Sohag, Ayman Abdel-Monaim, has ordered an investigation into the commissioning of a statue that has been criticised as depicting sexual harassment.
The statue, named ‘Mother of the Martyr’, features a woman – most likely a personification of Misr, Om El Donya – being embraced from behind by a soldier. Despite the artist’s noble intentions to represent the ‘spirit of the martyr’, Wagih Yani’s structure has been the latest object of criticism, after Cairenes widely condemned the renovation of the Om Kolthoum statue in Zamalek.
Alongside complaints of the statue portraying unwanted advances on women, the 8.5-metre-tall structure has also been accused of depicting Egypt's military ‘seducing’ the country. Perhaps if the female figure was represented as having undergone FGM, it would be easier for her to ‘stand by her man’as parliament member Elhamy Agina suggests.
The statue, yet to be formally unveiled, is currently undergoing modification by Yani, who will remove the soldier figure altogether and install olive branches in the martyr figure’s hands and a crescent formed from clay doves around her head, making the monument even more cliché than it was originally.
By Salma Thanatos Rizk