.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Women sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square

From Bikya Masr:
Heather still doesn’t know how she made it home on Wednesday night after being in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. The Arab-American arrived back at her Cairo flat without pants, having had them torn off downtown. She and her two roommates were victims of a mob attack by people in the iconic square on Wednesday, as protesters demonstrated against the military junta.

According to Heather, an Arab-American living in the Egyptian capital, she and her Swedish and Spanish roommates took to Tahrir as thousands were converging there to mark one-year since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak.

“They started fighting over who was going to do what,” Heather told Bikyamasr.com in an exclusive interview. She came forward after seeing the report on a foreign woman who was stripped naked and assaulted only hours after her own incident.

“My roommates and I fell to the ground when they attacked us. The people pulled our pants off even as we yelled and tried to fight,” she continued.

The incident occurred around 7:30 PM local time, just as night was taking hold of the city. Heather said the attack happened “in the center of Tahrir.”

She said that after the men pulled their pants off, they continued to grab and grobe the women’s bodies. “It is disgusting. They put fingers up my ass,” she revealed.

Luckily, the women were somehow pulled from the violence by a man and a woman and taken to safety. She said she doesn’t recall exactly how she was saved from the violent attack.

“I was shaking and crying and the man and woman just grabbed us and pulled us out and took us out of the square.”

Later in the night, the issue of sexual violence toward women was sparked after an eyewitness reported on the micro-blogging site Twitter that a foreign woman was stripped, groped and assaulted by another mob of men in the square.

The woman, who’s identity has not been revealed, was taken away in an ambulance after being assaulted for 10 minutes. Her husband reportedly was unable to intervene and witnessed the incident.

“I saw the woman and then dozens of men surrounded her and started grabbing her, when she screamed for help some people came, but they were hit in the face,” wrote one witness.

What happened next was “appalling,” said the trusted witness, who asked for anonymity. “The men just started tearing at her clothes and grabbing her body all over. When she fought back, they pushed her. It was chaos.”

There were unconfirmed reports that the men “violated” her with their hands.

Throughout the day, sexual harassment towards women has been increasing and more and more reports of women being grabbed and groped began being reported.

Heather said that she came forward to talk about what happened to her “because people need to know what goes on. It is the only way to start making it a problem that will have to be dealt with.”

However, many people told her to not reveal what happened to her because she was told, “it would hurt the image of the revolution.” But Heather said after seeing the reports of others and their assaults, “I felt it was right to say something.”

According to studies conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Right (ECWR) in 2008, 98 percent of foreign women and 83 percent of Egyptian women surveyed had experienced sexual harassment in Egypt.

Meanwhile, 62 percent of Egyptian men confessed to harassing women and 53 percent of Egyptian men faulted women for “bringing it on.”

(h/t Challah Hu Akbar@Israellycool)