News / Middle East

Rising Violence Against Egyptian Women Worries Rights Activists

Rising Violence Against Egyptian Women Worries Rights Groupsi
January 03, 2013 7:32 PM
Nearly two years after Egypt's revolution promised a more representative future, the rights of Egyptian women remain tentative. Rights groups say violence against women is on the rise and they want the government to intervene. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports.
Elizabeth Arrott
Women played a major role in the revolution that brought down Egypt's old government.  But nearly two years on, many say they have seen little reward.  In terms of physical security, activists say the plight of women is getting worse.
"There have been so many cases of mobbing, of sexual assault and recently also gang rape cases," notes Heba Morayef, the Egypt director of Human Rights Watch. "And the response to that of course has been zero response from the government,” she adds.
Activists say efforts to get the government to help women have failed. Psychologist Farah Shash of the Nadim Center in Cairo works with victims of sexual violence.
"Whenever we discuss women’s issues in the parliament or public debate, they would say it is not a priority, that we don’t believe that women protection and participation is a priority, with what is going on now with the revolution and the political system and so on,” Shash explains.
While women's rights were shaky under the old system, legal experts say the nation's new constitution, passed amid controversy last month, further erodes civil guarantees.
"Many of the lines in the constitution -- they didn't try to say things specifically for women to defend their rights,” complains a young woman who was among many to take to the streets to protest out of concern.
In addition to passing protective laws, rights groups say it will take an overhaul of an education system that portrays women in subservient roles, an economy that leaves many young people jobless and a society that tends to blame the victim for the assault.  
Some civic groups are offering women protection at rallies and other vulnerable areas. Psychologist Shash says the trend may help raise awareness, but the thinking behind it is misguided.   
"Women cannot move with human shields all the time in the Egyptian street," notes Shash. "We need to know that the system is protecting us.  We need to know that men do not see us as sexual objects walking on the street.” 
The growing number of cases where “protectors” have attacked suspects is a worrying development,  rights advocates say.

"This new license that's been given to private citizens to become involved in violence is an even more dangerous one," Morayef says.  "Because you see a weakening of the role of the state and honestly this opens the door to vigilantism moving forward.”
While rights groups view the Islamist government with a wary eye, they argue it is in everyone's interests, including the leaders', to take a greater role and step up security for women.

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Comment Sorting
by: ali baba from: new york
January 05, 2013 12:18 PM
woman and minority will have tough time in Egypt . Islam does not respect woman nor minority.

by: JKF from: Ottawa. Canada
January 03, 2013 8:54 PM
In my view/opinion the sit -- Egypt has approved Sharia based law; under such law there are very strict regulations wrt the behaiviour of women, as we know from many of the other Islamic law based states, and we read in the press. The population of Egypt, as most of the other states, is at least 50% women. For the Moslem Brotherhood to get a significant majority in the election ` 56+% of the vote, given the number of other religious minorities in Egypt, I estimate well over 65% of Muslim Men and well over 65% of Muslim women, that voted, must have voted for this non-secular gvmt. Under Sharia law, when strictly enforced, women are not even supposed to be out of their homes unaccompanied and worse.... Essentially, once you introduce such laws, and people do not follow them, the people (women in this case) are open to violence by extremists, and we all have extremist/violent amongst our people. We have seen such violence reported in the media from all over the world where such religeous laws are introduced. Women being physically weaker than men, are usually the first to be attacked by extremists; other ethnic/religeous minorities will surely be next.. and the story repeats itself. Interestingly enough, the liberals in the West, especially in the EU, that championed the cause of this new gvmt in Egypt, essentially abandoned the rights of women and minorities. We do not hear any of the EU liberals marching and screaming for the rights of women or minorities under the dictatorship of religeous majorities, and not just in Egypt. And saddly the Muslim Majority in the West, in my view as usual, will remain silent to these abuses against women, and minorities later on. That is why secular gmts are necessary, to ensure that all are equal and equally protected by the state's judiciary and security organizations. Very sad sit in Egypt for the majority of those that are secular muslims, especially women, or are from non-muslim minorities. A gvmt that refuses or is incapable to protect minorities and the weak, is only going to be self destructive to its people over time.

by: Saad AbuKhaled from: Egypt
January 03, 2013 2:18 PM
listen America... Muslim Brotherhood is Al Qaida... it is Hamas... Egypt today is the first Al Qaida State... why can't you understand that?? why would you insist of giving them F-16s and cutting edge technology Tanks... why?? they are not threatened by no one... they will be using these weapons against us... Egyptian citizens. the Muslim Brotherhood is already negotiating with Russia, N.Korea, China, Iran, to sell to them your advanced technology... what are you doing...?? listen America, Egyptian MB hates you more than Al Qaida and Islamic Jihad hate you... why are you subsidizing those who hate you so much..??? why???
In Response

by: khaled from: Saudi
January 06, 2013 5:14 AM

you argument does not make since man and no one will hear you because Morsy is a real Muslim who will guide Egypt to the right path.

I believe that Morsy is the best presedent in the whole earth.

if you have real evidence and proves about your argument give them we are not stupids to agree in any self argument.

what happens in Egypt is to destroy Islam but Allah will make it beyond every one may Allah correct they way you think about Islamic country.
In Response

by: Ken Rumgay from: America
January 03, 2013 10:44 PM
I have no idea. America keeps supporting those that hate us. Saudi Arabia is our biggest enemy and Baby George Bush kisses the kings hand!!
Our country is lost.

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