Out of the Powder Keg (full report)

2- Targeting female activists:

Year 2013 witnessed during the rule of the ousted president targeting female activists in different fields, examples:

  • Attacking large number of female Journalists and Photographers during performing their duties in covering the marches and protests against Morsi, during the first half of 2013.
  • Investigating Professor of Psychiatry Dr.Manal Omar in charges of insulting Mohamed Morsi when she analyzed the character of President of the Republic in one of the Television Programs.
  • Mohamed Morsi supporters attacked women activists in Itehadeya protests. They used excessive violence in general during the dispersal of that sit-in and with female activists specifically.
  • The activist Shahena Maqld suffered an attack by one of the Muslim Brotherhood stopped her from chanting a slogan of “MB are the enemies of Allah” by putting his hand over her mouth, during an attack that targeted the sit-in and a failed attempt to disperse it.
  • Mass sexual harassment attacks during the second anniversary of 2011 revolution, which targeted to eliminate women from political life.
  • Attacking activist Mervat Moussa in front of the Muslim Brotherhood guidance office in the day of Egyptian Women, after she draw with other activist a graffiti against the MB politics, which MB members considered as insult and one of them beat her.
  • The forms of social violence which women were exposed to during the past year, represented in sexual harassment.

United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in collaboration with the National Planning Institute and Demographic Center in Cairo made a study titled “studying the ways and methods to eliminate sexual harassment in Egypt.”
The study had many results including:

  • 99.3% of women in the survey said they were exposed to some for of sexual harassment.
  • 49.2% of Egyptian women experience sexual harassment, 19.2% of them experience sexual harassment on a weekly basis and 7.3% experience sexual harassment monthly.
  • 67.1% of women in the survey assured that all girls suffered sexual harassment regardless their clothes, their looks and the way they talk or walk. 87.7% of the participants in the survey see that women in all social classes are exposed to sexual harassment.
  • 68.9% of the sample sees that sexual harassment happens all the time and 68.5% insisted that all ages of males harasses sexually.
  • 48.9% of women assured that sexual harassment increased after January 25th revolution, but 44% see that sexual harassment rates are the same before and after the revolution, while 7% see it is less after the revolution.When the women were asked about which parts of the body exposed to touch, the answers came as follows:
  • 54.5% answered with the chest, 13.5% buttocks, and 7.1% all body.
  • Women suffered especially during the reign of isolated President Morsi from various forms of abuses, especially during their presence in stands and demonstrations, where many women were exposed to sexual harassment and rape during the second anniversary of the 25th of January revolution.

The attacks targeting women in Tahrir Square were done in systematic way, where group of men assault women who are alone or the attackers try isolate women away from their colleagues while number of aggressors rapidly increase, they drag the victim into a circle of large gatherings, they violate the women with their hands and sometimes with weapons that they use in some cases to access to the victim’s body by ripping off her clothes.
Amnesty International had to issue a statement addressing the President of the Republic at that time – Mohamed Morsi – to call him for taking decisive actions to end sexual harassment against women in Egypt.

The strange thing is the statements made by some officials about the incidents of sexual harassment, we find:

  • The Human Rights Commission of the Shura Council blamed the girls who have been subject of harassment in Tahrir Square on the second anniversary of 2011 revolution, Major General Adel Afifi said “the girl who know that she will be among thugs must protect herself before asking that the police protect her while Police officers cannot protect themselves. ” he added” in some cases, the girl contributes being raped by 100% because she put herself in these circumstances.”
  • Sheikh Ahmed Mahmoud Abdullah, also known as “Abuasalam”, launched a sharp attack on women who denounced being molested in Tahrir Square, he said they are not a red line, as some say they are, but he descried them as “Crusaders” and widows, stressing that they are going to Tahrir in order to be raped.
  • Former Minister of Information, Salah Abdel Maksoud, harassed female journalists more than once, during an award ceremony he answered a question of one of the Journalists who asked them “where is the freedom of press?” the Minister answered “you should come and I will tell you where.”
  • The Minister repeated the same sentence in a press conference when he responded a question by the reporter of Hayah channel when she asked about the content of Egyptian Television, he said “I will tell you like what I told your colleague before, come and I will tell you where.”
  • Former Prime Minister Hisham Qnadil, during the rule of the isolated president Mohamed Morsi, made a statement to many journalists saying that women in Beni Suef Governorate are raped in the fields and children there have diarrhea due to the lack of their mothers’ personal hygiene.
  • Incidents of sexual harassment became connected with systematic violence, some examples to that are:
  • A young man threw a caustic substance on a female student, which caused her to be injured with severe burns, after she tried to blame him for molesting her in Munib.
  • Unknown young man threw a caustic substance on a girl who was walking, that incident acquired without any reasons and resulted first, second and third degree burns to the girl who had to undergo surgery after a long medical treatment.
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