Egypt’s women protesters brace themselves for dangerous street protests

Lisa Anderson for Thomson Reuters Foundation – WNN Breaking

Egyptian woman protester sounds off to offensive man in Tahrir Square, Cairo
With spunk and courage an unidentified woman protester stands up and sounds off to a male security officer in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt during the February 2011 protests. Numerous protests by women on Tahrir Square have resulted in extreme sexual harassment and injury to women. Image: Leil-Zahra Mortada

(WNN) Cairo, EGYPT, NORTH AFRICA: As women activists brace themselves for a possible rough go of it during the upcoming public protests on Sunday June 30, they also fear that blatant sexual harassment of women may also be part of the center of the protest action at Tahrir Square may be the norm for women who are already vulnerable to attack in Cairo.

The issue of severe sexual harassment isn’t anything new to Cairo’s women.

After complaints of sexual harassment during previous mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a women’s rights group is urging women to prepare to defend themselves at demonstrations expected to take place on the anniversary of Egypt’s first democratic presidential election on June 30, a local newspaper reported.

The group ‘I Saw Harassment‘ is encouraging women who plan to protest against President Mohammed Morsi to arm themselves with hefty industrial needles, such as those used to stitch mattresses and upholstery, to fend off attackers, according to Egypt’s Daily News.

“This is not a call for violence – it is none other than a means of self-defense,” the group told the paper.

There were reports of at least 19 women being physically or verbally assaulted or raped by men during the protests in Tahrir Square on 25 January 2013.

In the run-up to the expected June 30 demonstrations, ‘I Saw Harassment’ said it had asked the Ministry of the Interior to become more active in protecting women and prosecuting crimes of sexual violence through its new violence-against-women department.

But the women’s rights group also said it has prepared its own measures to protect women on the day, including setting up a telephone hotline and a first aid station with medical equipment and personnel to treat victims as well as organizing a rescue team to intervene when incidents are reported.


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