This past New Year's Eve, hordes of men from North Africa and the Middle East, many of them Muslim refugees and migrants, set off like predators on the streets of European cities. In Cologne, Salzburg, Zurich and Helsinki untold numbers of women were sexually assaulted, robbed and even raped. "They felt like they were in power and that they could do anything with the women who were out in the street," one victim in Cologne told the BBC.
Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office, which is investigating the Cologne attack, said, "We use the term 'taharrush gamea,' as a phenomenon of jointly committed sexual harassment of women in public," adding that, until the New Year's Eve attacks, "the phenomenon was unknown" in Germany. But women of the Middle East and North Africa have long known about taharrush gamea. Some men used this concept of strategic public shaming to justify assaulting women in Egypt's Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring, including "60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan.
Katherine Zoepf's chilling book "Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of the Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World" doesn't specifically address taharrush gamea, or collective humiliation. But the themes of honor, shame, power, sex and Islam are woven throughout her intimate portraits of Muslim women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa.