by Samantha Ritchie Since the protests began on June 30th over 100 women have been sexually assaulted and raped in Tahrir Square, Egypt. Egypt’s second revolution in two years has seen their President Mohammed Morsi ousted from government. Protesters h …
by Samantha Ritchie
Since the protests began on June 30th over 100 women have been sexually assaulted and raped in Tahrir Square, Egypt.
Egypt’s second revolution in two years has seen their President Mohammed Morsi ousted from government. Protesters have clashed as pro and anti Morsi supporters meet on Tahrir Square. This clash has caused over 14 people to be killed. But, history seems to be repeating itself when it comes to women – they’re being raped, assaulted and harassed during the protests.
During the day, women, children and men take to the streets of Egypt to protest. Children on their mothers shoulders shouting and watching the scenes unfold in their city. As night falls many women leave the square with their children as the atmosphere begins to change.
Women being beaten with sticks, knives, metal chains and rods. There are also reports of of women being kidnapped and driven away in cars.
Witness accounts of what is taking place in Tahrir Square are horrific. Women also speak of wild panic and chaos. Women often drift under or with the crowd and they are then subjected to horrendous violence. One witness stated “the range of violence is from verbal harassment all the way to a woman dragged from one end of the square to the other by a mob of 100 men violently stripping and assaulting her.” A few days ago a Dutch journalist was also raped by 5 men while reporting about the protests.
Human Rights Watch have stated that the “rampant” sex attacks “show the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt face on a daily basis.” Over 100 women have been attacked, with many attacks going unreported, the figures are seen to be much higher.
Since the attacks which took place in Egypt two years ago there has been organisations that have been set up to combat attacks happening on the Square. Operation Anti Sexual Harassment (OpAntiSH) and Tahrir body guard locate themselves at central locations to combat attacks happening. The organisations post to Facebook and Twitter what parts of the Square is safe and if there are any exits blocked by protests which may become a danger to women in the Square. They also asked people who have apartments which overlook the Square to look out for attacks taking place as its impossible to track every incidence.
However, women who are thought to be in ‘safe hands’ after the attack are not. OpAntiSH Tweeted that they had to intervene when a nurse, at the Metro station, attempted to carry out a ‘virginity test’ on one survivor. Something which the police had been using to shame female protesters.
The attacks which took place two years ago were disgusting and Egypt should have learned from this. The fact that these organisations exist today and are saving women from crowds is commendable but there is obviously still a cultural problem in Egypt.
Egyptian culture needs to change.
Regardless who is the next President, there needs to be a greater emphasis on educating the Egyptian men on what these sort of attacks do to women. Not just physically but emotionally and psychologically too.
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