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The truth: they met after both swiping right on a dating app. She requested anonymity because of the stigma against dating and sex outside of marriage in socially conservative Egypt. For the far fewer Egyptian women than men on these sites, however, secrecy is also part of the game: Most women interviewed requested anonymity because they feared for their reputations if family, friends, or colleagues knew they dated or met partners online. And while in Egypt Tinder profiles advertising shirtless men with cars, police and military officers, and older men with rings on their fingers are standard, cases of swipes to the right turning to marriage remain rare.
Sexual health education, meanwhile, is practically non-existent, and nearly all Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment. Grindr, a dating app for gay men, has warned users in Egypt that police may be posing as users to entrap them and arrest them using laws against debauchery, prostitution, and pornography.
Kotb, who is also a Professor of Psychology at American University of Cairo, is rare in Egypt for her TV show that openly answers viewers questions on sex, including her views that homosexuality and masturbation are wrong. But social mores aside, Egyptian youth are skilled at usurping the system. About half of the population is under 25 and more than a third is connected online. Many young Egyptians now have secret boy and girl friends through Facebook and Whatsapp. There remains a thriving underground queer community in Cairo, despite the dangers.
All Egyptian women interviewed using these sites had either lived or traveled abroad and in Cairo met up with both Egyptian and foreign often Western men. They also reported being flooded with matches and responses. They would then go to dates at a popular hotel bar near their apartment. Another friend in the circle, however, felt less satisfied with her dates, casual sex, and few relationships through Tinder. At night young couples fill upscale cafes or line the iconic bridges alongside the Nile, holding hands and taking selfies.
At the same, the situation varies by class, according to Anthropology Professor Farha Ghannam at Swarthmore University. Prolonged engagements can serve as a dating-like get-to-know-you period as it provides legitimacy to the relationship and can be called off , Ghannam said.