Joint Statement – 10 December 2014
A few state institutions have taken preliminary procedures to combat violence against women in Egypt, which include announcing, a few weeks ago, the formation of a committee that is coordinated by the National Council for Women with several ministries and a small number of civil society organizations and initiatives, for the design of a national strategy to combat violence against women, which several feminist organizations and groups and a few human rights organizations have called for it since last year.
It is worth mentioning that the formation of the recent committee is regarded as a basic and important step to start the necessary procedure of combating these crimes, but at the same time, the feminist groups and organizations that called for this strategy remain extremely concerned that this committee will result in a vast shortage in the elements of the concerned strategy, and the degree to which the concerned committee will be committed to design the national strategy and its plan according to the recommendations made by feminist and human rights groups, which have borne the responsibility of making field interventions via the provision of medical, psychological and legal support to survivors of these crimes, whether in the private or public spheres, for many years, which might result in introducing a strategy that has a limited vision and is ineffective, as a result of its limitations and the lack of transparency in regards to the procedures of its announcement or implementation.
Subsequently, we, a group of feminist organizations and groups that share the same principles and biases, especially towards the issue of violence against women, announce our joint collaboration and building on our experiences in the field of standing against crimes of violence against women and responding to them, in order to design a national strategy that includes the roles that should be carried out by state institutions, including the ministries of Justice – and the Forensic Medicine Administration – Interior, Health, Education, Media, Social Solidarity and the National Council for Women, among other concerned parties, in addition to non-governmental feminist organizations. This stems from our belief in carrying out our fundamental role in making pivotal interventions and working as a pressure group to improve the deteriorating status of violence practiced against women of all kind and manner, and assert our complete independence from the committee that currently works on the concerned strategy without adhering to any standards of transparency, which we believe in.
We see that in this manner, we continue our role as an independent civil feminist society, by introducing a knowledge-based background and evaluation of the situation, providing solutions and alternative policies, in addition to reflecting on the forthcoming steps, and we will provide in the coming days our vision regarding the general framework for the concerned strategy and the role of state institutions and method of work plan implementation related to our vision. This comes to guarantee posing the issue of violence against women on the priority list and agenda of the state, especially in the midst of the horrific spread of these crimes, especially crimes of sexual violence that took place last year, with the absence of drastic solutions and the ineffectiveness of measures taken by the state.
The design of the concerned strategy by the undersigned feminist organizations and groups will include the mechanisms arising from the referred to field experiences, which included the degree to which state institutions responded to these crimes, including the police, medical hospitals, courts, legislative procedures, or rather, their absence, with only one exception, specifically the legal one regarding the crimes that were committed on June 8, 2014 during the inauguration of the new Egyptian president in Tahrir Square and its vicinity, in addition to adopting the international and broad definition for violence, which Egypt had signed and ratified via several international agreements and treaties since 1994 in the Population and Development Conference and Beijing Declaration in 1995, in addition to working on the necessary legislative amendments that some of the undersigned organizations have called for, for many years, and had submitted proposals for them to different governments, which showed no response to them whatsoever, or even initiated a serious conversation around them.
It has become very clear that there is no alternative to designing a real and effective national strategy to begin eradicating these crimes from their roots, and work on creating safe private and public spheres for women in a society that seeks to preserve the rights of its citizens, and ensure the availability of necessary services to survivors by the state, through which their dignity can be ensured, and apply serious methods to eradicate the culture of impunity for perpetrators of these crimes, while guaranteeing that the Egyptian government abides by the application of the agreements and treaties it ratified and signed, to put an end to crimes that close up the public space for women and continue in making a private sphere that women cannot live in, or enjoy their basic rights in.