Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Women activists in Egypt are more than concerned about threats to rights, about threats to their lives, and they are taking to the streets in Cairo to say so.  They are upset about the blind eye the State turns toward violence against women, and they are worried about the new constitution which may pretty much subject them to oppression under Sharia law, as interpreted by the top men of Egypt.

The New Women's Foundation has reported, for example, on the recent sexual harassment in downtown Cairo of two young women who were beaten when they objected.  

On Thursday, September 27, two Egyptian girls were walking in the commercial center of downtown by the infamous al-Shawarby street at around three in the afternoon. One of the girls was attacked suddenly when a seller jumped on her, kissing and hugging her by force.

She screamed and fought him, only to have him call his friends to join in the battering and abuse frenzy.

The two girls were beaten with a stick and pulled by the hair. Deciding to take the men to the police station, they fell into a web of bureaucracy.

“This incident is not the first and will not be the last that women face sexual harassment then be subjected to further violence because they refused to be silent on these crimes,” said the New Women Foundation and the al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence in a joint statement on Wednesday.
“We appeal to all state agencies to address the crime of sexual harassment and the allocate a hotline to receive complaints about sexual crimes against women,” the statement continued.
Activist Samya Jaheen told Aswat Masriya that there needs to be a law against physical violence, pointing to the increase of sexual harassment in Egypt's streets in recent years. 
The Fouda Watch initiative's Fathy Farid asked for a law criminalizing sexual harassment to be issued immediately, pointing to Assiut's victim who was killed during her attempt to defend herself from a sexual offender. 
Dozens of women's organizations will join in a march on thursday to the Presidential Palace demanding that the new draft constitution include a law criminalizing sexual harassment.
Meanwhile hundreds of women rights and  human rights activists gathered in central Cairo yesterday demanding that women's rights in general be protected in the new constitution.  They are particularly alarmed to the adding of the phrase "to be consistent with the provisions of Sharia" to articles regarding to women's rights.

Egypt Independent reports:

Protesters, who gathered outside the Shura Council where the Constituent Assembly drafting the charter meets, said that the reference to compatibility with "Sharia rulings," would allow for different interpretations by Islamic scholars that may curtail rights of women. 

Article 36 has been of particular concern for women's rights activists. Excerpts of draft text reveal that it seeks to lower the marriage age, legalize female genital mutilation and use Islamic jurisprudence in a way that could limit women's rights to work and education.

Critics say that such phrasing of Article 36 would open the door to violations of women’s rights by extremist views and interpretations of Sharia.

One of the marchers, Sabah Fawwaz Ibrahim told AFP:

"All the leaked articles are terrifying. There is no basis for equal citizenship rights for men and women.   The constitution is being written behind closed doors. They will write it and then go to the mosques and tell people to vote ‘yes’" in a referendum on the constitution."

The controversial draft clause suggests that the state will reinforce gender equality in all spheres but in accordance with the interpretations of Sharia (Islamic law).  The writing of the constitution is dominated by hard line Muslim fundamentalists.  The process of drafting a new constitution  has been widely criticised for being shrouded in secrecy.

According to the Facebook page calling for the protest, supporters of the cause include:
Political parties: The Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Popular Current, the Constitution Party, Egypt Party, the Justice Party, the Tagammou Party, the Nasserist Party and Freedom Party.
Unions and Fronts: The National Front for Defending Egyptian Women, the Alliance of Organizations, the Egyptian Feminist Union, the Feminist Voice, Baheya Ya Masr, Min Haii (It's My Right), the Egyptian Woman, the Egyptian Women's Movement for Change, You're a Free Egyptian Woman, Speak Up Movement, the Coalition for Women of the Revolution, the Voice of the Nubian Woman, the Egyptian Women Lawyers for Steps Forward Movement, the Enlightened Egypt Movement, the Front for Defending Creativity and the We Can See You Movement.
Feminist and Legal Foundations: The New Woman Foundation, the Women and Memory Forum, the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the Foundation for Egyptian Women Issues, the Association of Mothers for Legal Custody, the Alliance for Arab Women, the Legal Foundation for Family Assistance, the General Association for Women's Associations for Health Promotion, the Solidarity Foundation for Funding Azhar, the Center for Communications for Development (ACT), the Women's Parliament, the Life is Not Complete without the Ta (female pronoun) Movement, the Egyptian Democratic Institute, the Egyptian Democratic Association, the Center for Supporting the Law State, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, the National Initiative for Positive Involvement.
Public Figures: Dr. Mohamed Abul-Ghar, Dr. Hussam Eissa, Amr Mousa, Dr. Amr Hamzawi, Dr. Jalal Amin, Dr. Mohamed Nour Farhat, Dr. Abdel-Galeel Mostafa, Dr. Ziyad Bahaa El Din, Dr. Hazim El Beblawi, Mr. Ahmad El Ghandour, Dr. Abdel-Azeem Hammad, Dr. Sameer Murqos, Mr. Basem Kamel, Ms. Niam El Baz, Ms. Shuhra Ameen Elalam, Mr. Khalid Hal, Dr. Mouna Zulfikar, Dr. Essam Elislambouly, political activist George Ishac, Writer Gamal Fahmy, Writer Abdallah El Sinnawi, Writer Sakina Fouad, Director Khalid Youssef, Director Hala Khalil, Artist Fayrouz Karawya, Attorney Ameer Salim, Ms. Inas Mekkawi, Dr. Houda Badran, Dr. Fatma Khafaji, Ms. Niveen Ebeid, Ms. Amal AbdelHadi, Dr. Rajia Omran, Dr. Anisa Hassouna, Mr. Rami Shaath, Dr. Nadia Abdel Wahab, Mr. Ahmad Fawzi, Ms. Farida El Shoubashi, Mr. Farid Zahran, Ms. Amani El Khayyat, Dr. Hana AbulGhar, Mr. Yasser Rizk, Ms. Fadya Mougheeth, Ms. Shahinda Maklad, Ms. Nourelhouda Zaki, Ms. Nahed Eissa, Ms. Azza Balbaa, Ms. Kareema El Hefnawi, Ms. Souad Hammoudah, Ms. Safa El Sawi, Ms. Fatin Mohammad Ali, Ms. Shams El Atrubi, Attorney Hala Fouad Riyad, Dr. Manal Omar, Mr. Hussein AbdelGhani, Dr. Mouna Abul-Ghar, Dr. Nouhad Abul Qumsan, Ms. Mouna Moneer, Dr. Niveen Mousad, Ms. Buthaina Kamel, Writer Mohammad Salmawi, Dr. AbdulGhaffar Hanneish, Dr. Fawzi El Aryan, Mr. Alaa AbdulMonem, Mr. Mustafa El Guindi, Mr. Mohammad Youssif, Dr. Fathiyya El Assal, Ms. Samira Ebrahim, Ms. Samya Jaheen, Mr. Mohammad ElEjatty, Ms. Ghada Shahbandar, Shaheeda Al baz, Ne3m Al baz, Safaa Zaki Mourad, Ahmed Saied, Amr Al Shobaky and Emad Abo Ghazi. 

The following is from Human Rights First.  It includes some links, including one to a detailed report documenting human rights abuses against women in Egypt, found in the post below are worth checking out.

Women in Egypt: Fighting for Space in Tahrir Square and Beyond

By Diana Sayed
Human Rights Defenders

Last February women and men stood shoulder to shoulder in Tahrir Square to call for an end to Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship.  These women had many motivations, but among them was the hope that their lives, and the lives of all Egyptian women, would be better under democratic leadership.

And yet in the months after Mubarak’s resignation, the repression continued, this time at the hands of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).  Not only were women beaten and sexually assaulted by the SCAF but they also fell victim to humiliating “virginity tests.” They have been driven from both the public space as well as the public arena – the post-revolution Egyptian Parliament contained fewer women than had held seats during the Mubarak era (the parliament has since been dissolved by the SCAF).

Nazra for Feminist Studies, an NGO based in Cairo, issued a report, “One Year of Impunity,” detailing the violations committed against women human rights defenders in Egypt from August to December 2011. The report outlines how women who dare to challenge social conventions, by chanting against the regime or taking part in a strike, or simply walking at night, are vulnerable to sexual violence, threats, and derogatory public accusations aimed at discrediting their moral character.

Masa Amir, a researcher in Nazra’s Women Human Rights Defenders program told Human Rights First, “[t]he violence used against women human rights defenders in a matter of five months, from August to December, witnessed a rapid escalation in its intensity and brutality. From beatings in August to violent sexual assault and attempts to suffocate women human rights defenders to stripping a woman on the street and stomping on her chest, a sense of growing desperation on the part of the state was obvious. The targeting of women human rights defenders and the use of unprecedented violence are by no means just acts of senseless brutality, but are committed for political reasons – the disciplining of the national female body.”

Women’s rights have again come under attack in a section of Egypt’s draft constitution.  Article 36 of the “Rights and Duties” section states that “[t]he state is committed to taking all constitutional and executive measures to ensure equality of women with men in all walks of political, cultural, economic and social life, without contradicting the precepts of Islamic Law.”  Political parties, civil society coalitions and public figures issued a joint statement expressing their “deep concern” for the draft article’s wording, saying it could compromise the rights that women have been fighting for in the past few decades.

Mona Eltahawy, a prominent journalist and blogger, was sexually assaulted last year while she was held in detention for attending a pro-democracy rally before parliamentary elections.  The attack left her with two broken arms. Despite this, she continues to remain optimistic that women will eventually be better off after the uprising.  “Under those so-called secular regimes every first lady would adopt a feminist cause and it actually hurt feminism because it became associated with the dictator’s wife, but now we are taking feminism away and making it of the street and not of the dictator’s wife.”

Nazra’s report recommends halting the smear campaigns carried out against women human rights defenders, which are a blatant attempt to remove them from the public sphere.  The report also calls for an investigation against perpetrators of the violence in order to end impunity and seek justice for the victims.

1 comment:

Leader said...

pwseThere is a difficult situation in Sub-Sahara, north Africa, Arabian countries and nearby all countries. People are as pendulum between democratic countries and ultra fundamentalist forces. There is question before us where is alternative world social order !