Sexual harassment of women reveals the under-belly of turmoil in Egypt
(WNN) Cairo, EGYPT: In what has been called the most violent attack on women protesters since the pro-democracy revolution began in January 2011, women have been fighting back against sexual harassment in Tahrir Square.
“It is becoming increasingly uncomfortable to be female or foreign in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the January 2011 Egyptian revolution,” said humanitarian news service IPS on Friday.
In what has been described as “woman being seriously sexually assaulted” by an American photographer who witnessed a Danish woman being dragged into a building by a group of men the degree of violence against women has escalated significantly.
Friday’s protest brought more women down to Tahrir to stand up to the fate of women who continue to protest in the Square.
“The Egyptian authorities must immediately launch an investigation into reports of sexual harassment and assaults against women protesters during a demonstration in Cairo,” outlined Amnesty International last Friday about the agency’s concern over escalated violence against women in the region.
As crowds filled Tahrir Square following the announcement of the court sentence of life imprisonment for former President Hosni Mubarak, conditions for women’s safety in the Square quickly deteriorated. The scale of people at the Square did what many women’s advocates feared – escalated the violence against women.
Although women have been pivotal with the push for democracy in Egypt, advocates fear that the collective voice of women in Egypt may be dissipating under rising exclusion and ongoing discrimination.
“There were hands groping us and stealing our belongings from our bags and pockets,” said Lobna Darwish, activist citizen blogger and co-organizer of last weeks protest by women. “It was chaos, we couldn’t tell who was with us and who was against us,” Darwish outlined.
As SCAF – Supreme Council of the Armed Forces stake their own set of power and claims for governance inside the country on Monday following the recent Egyptian elections, The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is calling for the public to protest what the Brotherhood has called a military “coup.”
Stating that it has broad power that includes powers usually granted to heads of office, SCAF is now claiming that it has complete economic powers as well as the military power to limit the new president “as commander-in-chief.” SCAF recently dissolved the acting parliament in Egypt after the supreme court decision stated the legislation had been determined to be “unconstitutional.” SCAF also made a formal statement on Monday that the elected presidential candidate would be temporary and “transitional,” but failed to say what or who would take the place after the transition was over.
Currently Egypt swings in wide-based political limbo as the winner of the election is in public dispute. The SCAF candidate and The Muslim Brotherhood candidate have both been declared winners.
Women in Egypt appear to be the real losers in the process though, as a rising numbers of women are frustrated with political outcomes and are pushed further away from the edge of leadership and decision-making.
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