NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY


  February 8, 2013

Sexual Harassment of Women is State Sponsored Say Egyptian Women


Systematic attacks targeting female protesters in Tahrir square have forced an ugly epidemic into the national spotlight.
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter


The Real News is a vital answer to The New York Times, the house organ of the oligarchs. - Al Salzman
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


transcript

Sexual Harassment of Women is State Sponsored Say Egyptian WomenJIHAN HAFIZ, TRNN CORRESPONDENT, CAIRO: It's a grim reality that has lately united Egyptian women from all walks of life. Two years of increased sexualized violence against female protesters has forced an ugly epidemic into the national spotlight. The gang rapes and attacks on women in the revolution's iconic Tahrir Square enraged many Egyptians to organize this protest specifically against sexualized violence. Angry chants condemned a system that condones and perpetuates violence targeting women.

JIHAN FADEL, EGYPTIAN ACTRESS (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): There was harassment before the revolution, but what we have now is gangs. I'm talking about 30, 40, 50 men attacking with knives. That's not harassment. They're attacking women with pocket knives. Is that harassment? These are crimes.

HAFIZ: Increased attacks singling out female protesters exploded over the past two years, culminating in scenes like this on January 25 last month. Volunteers and activists with anti-harassment campaigns filmed these mob attacks against women this past January 25.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): That's Reem! There's Reem! She's in that one! There is another girl!

HAFIZ: Some of them were their fellow volunteers. Here one woman tries to comfort her infant daughter as a mob moves in. Inside these mobs, over a dozen women were gang-raped, relentlessly groped, stripped naked of their clothes, and assaulted with knives and iron rods. In one case, a 19-year-old girl was rushed to emergency surgery with large gashes to her genitalia. Such savagery has provoked women to arm themselves, brandishing their weapons during this march as a clear warning to their attackers.

~~~

REPORTER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Why are you holding this knife in the march?

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Because no one is going to force us into our homes, no one is going to scare us into hiding in our homes. and we are going to arm ourselves to defend ourselves. And any dog who dares to come near us, I will slice him! These crimes are orchestrated. It's a social disease and it's present in this society. But what is happening now is organized crime.

~~~

HAFIZ: Rights groups and activists are convinced the systematic attacks are products of state-sponsored repression.

LODNA DARWISH, ORGANIZER, OPANTISH: This is not the first time that the government uses sexual violence to intimidate men and women, especially women. We've been seeing, since Mubarak years until now, the government paying thugs—and it's proven—to come and sexually harass women. They would come to the protest and not beat up women, just sexually harass them, undress them, drag them undressed—and everybody probably saw the video of the blue-bra girl who was stripped of her clothes and dragged on the streets. This was the army. And then there was the virginity test, the so-called virginity test, which was like a rape incident of the army again, forcing 18 women to go through virginity tests. So it's a continuous pattern of sexual humiliation.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Hi. I'm with the campaign against sexual harassment. If there is any harassment in the square—.

HAFIZ: A number of newly-formed campaigns combating sexual harassment have been mobilizing within communities and on the streets.

DEMONSTRATORS (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We the women will free Egypt!

HAFIZ: As the march roars through this busy neighborhood, scuffles break out between some of the female marchers and male onlookers.

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): He said women are raped and harassed depending on how they dress. So I shamed him! In Arabic and English! I said, does anyone leave their home naked? Even if she dressed indecent, would she leave her home naked? Dog! That's the Brotherhood's mentality! They do this so we go back to our homes. But we will never!

HAFIZ: Although daily harassment is prevalent in this socially conservative society, the subject is often ignored when addressed.

~~~

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I no longer take my wife out because of harassment.

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We take a short trip on the metro, and I get into 36 fights.

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): No, no.

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We don't have the money to take a cab. If we take any public transportation, I have to sit her far against the window.

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): No, no! There is no such thing!

DEMONSTRATOR (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Don't put Egypt in that category.

~~~

SALMA SAID, ORGANIZER, OPANTISH: We're not only facing the problem of harassment, of sexual harassment; we're also facing a huge problem of society wanting to be silent about it, the men being extremely aggressive when anyone trying to discuss what is happening.

HAFIZ: A recent study found over 80 percent of Egyptian women and over 95 percent of foreign women have experienced sexual harassment. Videos of mob assaults of women started appearing on YouTube years before the revolution. Salma was among some of the first to blog about it several years ago.

SAID: And I wrote my testimony about the time, the many, many, many times that I was sexually abused or sexually harassed from when I was a child till, like, now. And I asked other women to write about it as well, because I was—I mean, I was going to go—going crazy because men said that these things don't happen in Egypt and that Egypt is a religious country and these kind of things. So it happened, and I was sure that the same people who were saying this are the people who are harassing women in the street.

HAFIZ: Considered a taboo subject, victims are commonly blamed for the attack while the perpetrator is let off.

FADEL: But no one speaks out against it. Why? Because the victim is a woman, because they argue: what brought her there in the first place? Why is she in the streets? Women are supposed to be at home. Those who come to the streets are indecent. Rather than elicit a response, people are mocking it [rather] than responding to it.

HAFIZ: In the urban slums and among the rural poor, the issue is practically ignored.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): There is no religion. There's no life. There is no father who tells their sons, that's wrong. There is no concern for it. No one walks in the street and considers, this could be my mother or sister and it might happen to her. There is no such talk.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): It used to be just one individual, not the entire society against the girl. And there is no distinction. It doesn't matter if she's covered, showing her hair, elderly, a child. There is no distinction.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I sat down and had a talk with my daughter, because rape and harassment also happens between teachers and the girls, to children my daughter's age. Of course, she is just a child. She doesn't understand anything. But I speak with her, and so does Sheren. We tell her not to go into the bathroom with the teacher.

HAFIZ: These women have quietly formed a support group to deal with harassment and sexual abuse in their community.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): She didn't have any pants on.

HAFIZ: The silence is slowly being broken. Public discussion is opening up after the latest survivors of the mob attacks braved the backlash and recounted their experiences on national television.

UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I felt as if I would die in that moment.

SAID: They have done an amazing favor for the rest of us, for everyone else, because they didn't worry about facing their neighbors, their families. They were like, it's not our fault that we were assaulted; it's your fault, it's society's fault, it's the men's fault, it's the government's fault; and we are not going to suffer above our suffering from what happened; we have to solve this, and we're going to speak up and we're going to talk about it and we're going to, like, make it explode in everyone's faces.

HAFIZ: But it remains a long upward battle in this patriarchal society. A sheikh from the prominent Al-Azhar Institution issued a fatwa encouraging the rape of women during protests.

During Friday's protests and on the front lines during clashes, women roamed amongst their male counterparts, asserting their resolve and participation in Egypt's ongoing revolution will remain.

Jihan Hafiz for The Real News, Cairo, Egypt.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

IMF-Eurozone Deal Hailed as a Breakthrough, But No Relief for Greeks
Why Austrians Nearly Elected a Far Right Candidate as President
Unions and the Sanders/Clinton Split (2/2)
Democratic Nomination Battle is Not Over Yet
Will Sanders Appointees Shake Up the Convention?
'The Law Has Always Been in the Favor of Law Enforcement'
Officer Edward Nero Found Not Guilty of All Charges Over Death of Freddie Gray
Unions and the Sanders/Clinton Split (1/2)
Bernie Sanders and the Widening Political Spectrum
Austria Narrowly Elects Former Green Party Leader as President, Avoids Far-Right Candidate
The Empire Files: 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats
By Ignoring Fossil Fuel Extraction, the Paris Agreement is Doomed to Failure
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (3/3)
Erdogan Targeting the 59 Pro-Kurdish HDP Parliamentarians with 445 Police Investigations
Climate Change-Fueled Droughts Pushing Africa to the Brink
The Financial Invasion of Greece
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (2/3)
Judge to Hand Down First Verdict in Freddie Gray Case on Monday
Move to Amend and the Fight to Remove Corporate Money From U.S. Elections
Baltimore Activists Defend Tubman House Against Threats of Demolition
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (1/3)
Ultra-Nationalist Avigdor Lieberman Accepts Post as Defense Minister of Israel
Sanders and Class Struggle in the Democratic Party
Baltimore Public Defender: Questionable Arrests Still Clog the Court System
Wilkerson on Heightened Tensions in the South China Sea
The Real News of the Day - May 19, 2016
How One Arrest Could Change the Culture of Policing in Baltimore
#FreddieGray Case Spurs Activism and Action in Baltimore Classrooms
Successful Swiss Addiction Treatment Program Ignored by U.S. Congress
Washington, D.C. Echoes a Growing Call to #KeepItInTheGround

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting