The Index Arts Award winner Mayam Mahmoud
Mayam Mahmoud has been named the Index Arts Award winner.
20 Mar 14

Mayam Mahmoud, award winning Egyptian Hip-hop Artist (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Mayam Mahmoud, award winning Egyptian Hip-hop Artist (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Rapper Mayam Mahmoud uses hip-hop to address issues such as sexual harassment and to stand up for women’s rights in Egypt. The 18-year-old rose to prominence through her appearances on the popular TV show Arabs Got Talent. Aged 12, she was introduced to poetry by her mother. She began writing her own work, which soon turned into rap — still a male dominated music genre across the world.

From her song:

Girls in our society are divided
Into those who wear the niqab, those who wear the veil
And those who are in between
There are a lot of cases that depend on the girl
How she dresses
And how she looks
But this is not the rule
How can you judge me
By my hair or by my veil?
If one day you look at me
I am not going to be the one
Hiding her/my embarrassment
You cat call and you harass
Thinking this is right not wrong
Even if these are words
This is not the kind of treatment
These are stones
It is not her clothing that is inappropriate or wrong
It’s this way of thinking which is
Sometimes the clothing is too much
But you are the one to blame
One look can be could hurt
And it is not right of you to be staring
You deserve to be slapped twice on the face
Femininity in Egypt is divided into two parts
There is a difference between what men and women consider
And both are wrong
Who said that femininity is about dresses
Femininity is about intelligence and intellect
It is also about the way she was raised
And her religiosity
Girls have lost confidence in themselves
Now she puts in makeup
And dresses in different colours on top of each other
The problem is not with the girl
The problem is with the society that influences the girl every second
If you ask girls if they have good taste in dressing
They will say yes we have
But our lives can not be described
Our lives have become very materialistic
And everyone wants something that would endure
You get what you pay for
The expensive things are better than the cheap.

— Mayam Mahmoud

Read more about Mayam Mahmoud

This article was originally posted on 20 March 2014 at