Sisa Abu Daooh (left) is honoured by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi
An Egyptian woman has been honoured after she lived as a man for more than four decades so that she could make a living to support her daughter.
According to reports, Sisa Abu Daooh, 65, was 21-years-old and six months pregnant when her husband died. While her family tried to set her up with another man, she refused to marry someone she didn’t love.
Living in a deeply conservative community in the city of Luxor, she instead decided to present herself as a man so that could live and work freely.
She shaved her hair, dressed in men’s clothing and worked as a brick-maker and then later as a shoe-shiner. In a masculine role, Abu Daooh was also able to avoid being sexual harassed.
“So as to protect myself from men and the harshness of their looks and being targeted by them due to traditions, I decided to be a man … and dressed in their clothes and worked alongside them in other villages where no one knows me,” she told Al Arabiya Net.
Abu Daooh continues to provide for her grandchildren and daughter, Houda, who explained: “She wakes up every day at 6 am to start polishing shoes at the station in Luxor. I carry the work kits for her as she [is] now advanced in age.”
On Sunday, Abu Daooh received an award from Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Dressed in a male robe and turban she was honoured with a cash prize at the presidential palace for being an “exemplary mother”.
After receiving the award, she defiantly insisted that she has no intention of now dressing as a woman. “I will work dressed in a man’s robe until I die,” she said, reported Agence France-Presse.
Despite Abu Daooh being lauded by the state, male cross-dressing and transgender women are not generally accepted in Egypt and offenders may be prosecuted under the country’s morality laws.
In January, a 25-year-old transgender woman, Malooka Aldlouah, was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of “debauchery.” Her conviction is part of a recent crackdown on the country’s LGBT community.