Rapping About Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Depression, Zap Tharwat Touches the World

Ahmed Tharwat, better known by his artist name Zap Tharwat is a Jordanian Egyptian hip hop artist and rapper who’s touching the world with the deep messages in his music.

One of the themes he discusses in his music is sexism and sexual harassment against women. In his song, ‘Nour’, he addresses sexism in hiring processes in a brilliant way. When a certain Nour applies for an engineering position, the employer is impressed by his application letter. In the letter, Nour describes how he had to take care of his family after his father’s death, while combining it with his studies. Touched by this letter, the employer invites Nour on an appointment to discuss further work opportunities. However, the employer is shocked to learn that Nour isn’t a man, but a woman. Out of confusion, he confronts himself with the question as to why he assumed that a brilliant, independent young engineer is a man. He also catches himself reconsidering his opinion on Nour. ‘Eeb’, the employer finally says, it’s not done to reconsider hiring someone because of being a woman. Being a woman does not make an employer any less competent and he’s ashamed that this thought even crossed his mind.

A second theme that he discusses in a very touching way, is the sexual harassment of women in public spaces. In ‘meen al sabab’, or, ‘who’s to blame’, Zap Tharwat confronts bystanders for not standing up against sexual harassment. Bystanders see and hear what is happening, but continue to pretend as if they don’t. This passive attitude and non interventionism gives women the feeling that they are to be blamed for this kind of behaviour.

A third theme Zap Tharwat discusses is mental health, depression and suicide. These themes are controversial to discuss in the Muslim world, that’s why songs that address them in a real and touching way can be very important. In his song, ’25’, the artist discusses how 25% of the youngsters feel depressed, and 6% of them are suicidal. He criticises those who ask ‘how are you?’ without wanting to hear the real answer to that question. The feeling of loneliness and despair is universal and most of the people have felt it. We cannot cure depression and mental health illnesses as a society, when we continue to ignore these problems. Young generations are brought up in a deeply violent society, we can’t expect that they won’t feel broken.

The goal of Zap Tharwat isn’t to be controversial, it is to discuss societal problems and, just by doing that, he speaks to the world in a very touching way. That’s why he’s definitely one of my favourite artists.

Head image: Mahmoud Seddawy

Written by Mayada Srouji

Mayada Srouji

Mayada Srouji is a 23-year-old student Gender and Diversity at the UGent and has a bachelor in Arabic and Islamic Sciences, with a minor in political and social sciences. She is interested in women rights, philosophy, literature and history.