News / Middle East

Rise in Egypt Sex Attacks Prompts Protests

Rise in Egypt Sex Attacks Prompts Protestsi
|| 0:00:00
X
February 12, 2013 6:49 PM
Demonstrations are planned outside Egyptian embassies worldwide Tuesday to protest the recent spike in sexual violence against women in Egypt. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports from Cairo.
Elizabeth Arrott
Demonstrations are planned outside Egyptian embassies worldwide Tuesday to protest the recent spike in sexual violence against women in Egypt.

Women have been central to Egypt's revolution, from the uprising two years ago through protests against current President Mohamed Morsi.

They have suffered the dangers of the front lines, but in recent weeks, a growing threat has emerged.

Mob attacks

Mob sexual violence against female protesters skyrocketed in the past month, with at least 19 attacks reported on Cairo's Tahrir Square in one day alone.

Amateur videos and witness accounts describe how women in the crowd are singled out and encircled by a group of men. The men rip off the women's clothes and violate them with hands, sticks, and in at least one case, a blade.

As the attack unfolds, some men pretend to come to the rescue only to join in the assault. Others brandish knives to keep the real rescuers at bay.

Women have rallied in protest, demanding the president investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

Amnesty International has also called on Morsi to act.

The human rights group has long urged Egyptian leaders to address the issue of violence against women in the country, where many women report frequent harassment just going about their lives.  

"When I go in the street and find something hit me or touch my body, what are they thinking about? How could they do that?" asked a female university student.

Scare tactics

The mob attacks of Tahrir have sparked even darker questions and accusations that the violence is not just gender-based, but political.

Nehad Abu al-Komsan, director of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, said the attacks are organized as a way to empty the squares and scare the opposition. 

She calls them "messages to society so that they are scared to express their opinion."

Activists point out there have been no reports of mob attacks at pro-government rallies. 

Political analyst Said Sadek says the practice goes back years.

"This is a culture that thinks that humiliating people sexually will deter them from being active politically," he said. "So this is what is being done, and nobody gets arrested despite the fact that you have videotapes of the people who did it."

Demand for action

While a culture of impunity is not new, the spike in attacks has raised pressure on Morsi and other Islamist leaders to clearly denounce the violence and work to prevent it.

"The people will be pushing for laws to be applied, for laws to be in the parliament to stop these kinds of actions whether sexual harassment, sexual violence or any kind of violence taking place," said Farah Shash, a psychologist who works at the Nadeem Center for Victims of Violence.

An indication of how hard that drive will be came Monday, when Islamist members of Egypt's only legislative branch, the Shura council, blamed the victims for the crime, saying the women had put themselves in danger by going to the protests.

In the meantime, and despite the dangers, many Egyptian women say they remain determined to make their voices heard and will use protests outside Egyptian embassies worldwide to vent their anger.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
February 12, 2013 4:01 PM
The molestation of women protesters at Cairo's Tahrir Square is nothing new. The military of Mubarack used the technique to pacify and put shame on the women protesters. The Moslem Brotherhood of President Morsi is using the same technique to discourage women protesters against his rule. The military of Morsi strip naked and beat the men protesting in Tahrir Square, as we all saw in the video in the TV. The human rights violations of Morsi administration is worse than that of Mubarack. At least women and religious minorities enjoyed more freedom under Mubarak than under Morsi.


by: Melissa Brown from: USA
February 12, 2013 2:22 PM
No... couldn't be... rise in rapes... and sex crimes?? in Egypt...? NO!! couldn't be... you see, Egyptians are civilized, enlightened, science based population... of course - they have a slight problem with hygiene... according to their "prime minister"... where dysentery, HIV/AIDS, cholera and even the plague are ever afflicting the squalid Arab population - but other than that - its an enlightened tolerant even Rabbinical Polemical Philosophical society... really... well, they just need more weapons to defend themselves against the starving Black Africans in Darfur...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid