Sexual violence and sexual torture against women will not thwart their struggle to fulfill the goals of the Revolution
In an attempt to stop Egyptian women from continuing their struggle towards fulfilling the goals of the January Revolution – Dignity, Freedom and Social Justice – organized groups have begun using weapons of sexual violence, ranging from obscenity and sexual harassment to rape, mass rape, sexual mutilation and attempted murder, against women.
Since early times, women’s bodies have been abused in wars and in armed conflicts as a means of psychological warfare intended to humiliate the enemy and destroy his morale. Research in the humanities and the United Nations have uncovered hundreds of thousands of victims of sexual violence and sexual torture that occurred during the Second World War. In the more recent history, hundreds of sexual crimes were uncovered in Rwanda, Serbia, Bosnia, Darfur, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Those responsible for these abhorrent acts bargain on that social stigma will prevent women from speaking out publicly. They bargain on the complicity of law enforcement agencies and that they will not fulfill their role of protecting the protestors. They count on that many politicians will remain silent so as to protect the “reputation of the Tahrir Square” and that the political forces that see women only as nakedness (awra) will look aside because these occurrences only strengthen their negative views of women.
But the women of Egypt have decided to speak out! They have decided to make all parties face their responsibility for confronting these humiliating acts of oppression. These acts are not solely directed against women. They aim at breaking the will of the Egyptian nation as a whole. The Egyptian nation whose mass demonstrations, before the fall of Mubarak were characterized, by respect for women. No single mass sexual harassment incident occurred during the days of the Revolution.
The spate of mass sexual assaults against women has not stopped since the Mubarak regime started using sexual violence against women demonstrators in May 2000. In addition to the mass sexual harassments occurring in public and crowded places during religious holidays, Egypt has seen attacks on women rights activists celebrating the International Women’s day on March 8th, 2011. Just one day later, women participating in a political sit-in in Tahrir square were detained and subjected to forced virginity testing in the Military Prison. The targeting of women increased after islamists took control of the Parliament. Brutal assaults against women, many in which women were beaten with belts, occurred in and around Tahrir Square in June and July 2012. These assaults grew into attacks on women, indecent assaults and threats using white arms in this year’s commemoration of the Revolution. Even cases where women were stabbed using blade weapons have been documented.
A number of survivors of these attacks made it clear that these assaults were perpetrated by highly organised groups whose general appearance does not suggest that they are among the “baltageya” who sexually harass women (random harassment), but are in fact well organized and specially trained for their mission. An example of this occurred on January 25th. A large number of militiamen surrounded women marchers in Talaat Harb square and formed a cordon around the women demonstrators. The cordon gradually closed in on them until they were separated from the Azhar clerics who were also participating in the march. When the march reached the Tahrir square entrance, the militiamen split into groups, each group surrounding and encircling a woman and leading her to a remote part of the square. There tens of hands groped each of the women. Some of the women were threatened by the use white arms. Others were subjected to physical violence.
The Mubarak regime began using sexual violence against women demonstrators in May 2005. Today, the ruling political regime is trying to use the same weapon. It is, however, outdoing the previous regime by using organized and trained groups to execute these abhorrent deeds. As we exposed the Mubarak regime and pursued them nationally and internationally, we will fight the current regime and the institutions that are responsible for or complicit in these crimes and we will pursue them legally nationally and internationally. More importantly we will not stop in our struggle for the fulfillment of the demands Egyptian revolution and the struggle for full equality between the citizens of this nation and against the discrimination between them on the basis of sex, religion, ideology, class or geographic background or any other forms of discrimination.
El-Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
New Woman foundation
The Woman and Memory forum
Baheya Ya Masr
Arrow of Confidence
The Egyptian Women’s Union
Voice of Egyptian Women
Egyptian Women for Change
Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination
National Egyptian Development Association
Consultancy council for Coptic Associtations
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Daughters of Earth
Egyptian Women’s Union
Bashaier for Development of Society
The Alliance for Arab Women
One World Foundation for Development and Civil Society Care
Tawafok Center for Legal Assistance and Development
Society for Health Improvement in Cairo
Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights
Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination
Roueya for Development and Media Studies
Egyptian Democratic Academy
Egyptian Democratic Institution
Egyptian Foundation for Family Development
Egyptian Initiative for Women Lawyers
National Union for the Independence of Lawyers
Youth movements and initiatives
Egyptian Creativity front
Youth for Justice and Freedom
The Free Egyptians
National Unity Youth
The Free Egyptian Woman
Egyptian Social Democratic Party
Socialist Popular Alliance Party
Egyptian Popular Current
Al Dostour Party
Masr Alhorreya Party
Al Masreyeen Al Ahrrar
Egyptian Socialist Party
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