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Friday, June 22, 2012

Sexual assaults in Tahrir Square keep getting worse

From Bikya Masr:
The month of June has seen numerous reports of sexual violence in Egypt’s iconic square, highlighting that women’s rights and ending harassment continue to be on the outside looking in as political tension in the country amps up.

Last Friday was the worst day, with women, both foreigners and Egyptians, reporting that they had been sexually assaulted in the square take place following the disbanding of Parliament on Thursday evening.

“I was walking in the square and was hoping to be part of the calls for the SCAF to leave power when a man behind me grabbed by butt and started saying disgusting things to me,” one woman told Bikyamasr.com on Friday afternoon, asking that their identity remain anonymous.

“He asked if I was a slut and then swore at me when I yelled at him,” she added.

Others also reported being harassed on social media networks, highlighting the growing concern facing women in the country and specifically in Tahrir Square, where masses are gathering.

One foreign correspondent, a female, said she would not head down to Tahrir when it gets dark for fear of being attacked and groped. She said on the side streets of the square, she was grabbed numerous times this past week.

If women cannot walk their streets freely, without fear of being assaulted, harassed and raped, how can the country move forward on a revolution that has been stalled by the military power in control of the country?

While there are a number of activists who have apologized for sexual violence against women, these apologies and anger toward sexual assaults against women in Egypt are usually forgotten within 24 hours, with many activists claiming there “are more important issues” to be discussed.

This misses the point facing more than half the country. As Nawal Saadawi, the prominent Egyptian feminist, told us recently in her Cairo house, “women are the revolution and without women you cannot have a future.”

...This is the current, modern Egypt that exists. And one where women are silenced from public. The use of violence and harassment against all women in this country is the main social problem that is barring any real and viable change from occurring.

If Egypt is to see the success of the revolution then women, and violence against them, must be battled at every step.

A constitution and election are important. But a country where women live in fear of walking down their streets, anywhere, is not a country that has a bright future.