Monday, February 11, 2013

Worldwide Solidarity With Egyptian Women Against 'Sexual Terrorism'

Worldwide solidarity with Egyptian women against 'Sexual terrorism'

Ahram Online, Monday 11 Feb 2013

Activists and feminists call for demonstrations outside Egyptian embassies in various world capitals on Tuesday to denounce recent sexual attacks against women protesters in Tahrir Square

Protesters and several NGOs from around the globe announced they will rally in front of Egyptian embassies on Tuesday in solidarity with Egyptian women who have been protesting against “sexual terrorism.”

The protests will be held in several world capitals including Rabat, Morocco; Tunis, Tunisia; Amman, Jordan; Copenhagen, Denmark; Brussels, Belgium; Washington D.C, USA; London, England; Paris, France; and Oslo, Norway.

There will also be rallies in other major cities like Melbourne in Australia and Ramallah in Palestine.

The Arab Women Uprising movement is coordinating the protests along with several NGOs and feminist groups worldwide.

In a statement issued on Monday, the movement held the ruling party in Egypt, the Mulsim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, responsible fornot taking enough measures against the “gangs of thugs” who have been attacking, stripping and raping peaceful protesters - women or men - in recent days.

The Statement also accused the Egyptian police of not providing enough protection against sexual harassment to Egyptian women, demanding the passage of a proper law against sexual violence.

The movement also rejected the politics of blaming the victim which is widespread in Egyptian society and media.

The statement called on all revolutionary groups, political parties and NGOs to expose "attempts to defame Tahrir square and to terrorise protesters, and women in particular, in Egypt."

Meanwhile, several Egyptian feminist groups such as OpAnti-Sexual harassment announced they would march from Talaat Harb squareto Tahrir Square at 6PM on Tuesday as part of the international day of action.

On 25 January, 2013 several female protesters were subjected to sexual assaults and rape by unknown assailants on the margins of anti-government protests in Tahrir Square.

Hundreds march against sexual harassment in downtown Cairo

Ahram Online, Wednesday 6 Feb 2013

Following recent incidents of sexual assault in Cairo's premier protest venues, hundreds of Egyptian activists converge on Tahrir on Wednesday to demand 'a safe square for all'

Hundreds of Egyptians on Wednesday afternoon staged a protest march against sexual harassment and violence against women from Cairo’s Sayyida Zeinab Square to the nearby Tahrir Square.

The rally brought together men and women of different backgrounds and ages, in addition to activists who held banners aloft bearing slogans against sexual harassment.

"Silence is unacceptable; my anger will be heard," one banner read. "A safe square for all; Down with sexual harassment!" read another.

Marchers also shouted chants against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails.

The rally comes in response to recent cases of sexual assault in both Tahrir Square and Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Some anti-sexual harassment activists suspect that recent attacks – which occurred during political demonstrations – may have been planned in advance.

Wednesday’s march was organised by several local political and feminist groups, including the OpAnti-Sexual Harassment and Baheya Ya Misr movements.

A handful of political parties also participated, including the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance.

While en route to Tahrir Square, volunteers from OpAnti-Sexual Harassment formed human shields around the marchers to protect them from possible harassment.

A number of other recent anti-harassment rallies held in Cairo were attacked by unidentified assailants.

NSF blames President Morsi for Tahrir sexual assaults, police violence

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Feb 2013

Opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) demands president, government and interior minister be held accountable for recent violence against peaceful protesters

The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) has condemned a recent spate of violent attacks on peaceful protesters.

In a statement on Sunday, the front claimed organised violence, including sexual attacks using knives on female protesters, was designed to prevent people expressing their views.

President Mohamed Morsi, his government and the interior minister are responsible for the violence and torture, the front said. They have failed to protect peaceful protesters from attacks by militias and thugs, such as those carried out against women in Tahrir Square.

"These organised mob sexual assaults cannot be separated from the oppressive tactics [of the security forces] and the use of torture and intimidation against revolutionaries," read the statement.

Such tactics would not stop women from participating in Egypt's political life, it added.

Dozens of mob sexual assaults have taken place around Tahrir Square during recent protests. Many argue the attacks are systematic and organised.

On Saturday, the front issued a statement condemning police brutality and rejecting the accusation that the opposition is to blame for the escalating violence.

"The Egyptian people and the whole world witnessed the violence around the presidential palace [on Friday]. It coincided with successive statements by the Muslim Brotherhood's leaders accusing the Egyptian people, the peaceful revolutionary forces, and the National Salvation Front of inciting violence," read the statement.

"Those statements revealed aggressive intentions toward the people and the opposition. This was confirmed by the violence [on Friday] and the unjustified use of brutal violence [by the police] … The brutal stripping and dragging along the ground of an unarmed man is an inhuman act [by the police] that involves unacceptable humiliation and is no less horrible than the assassination of his fellow martyrs," it added.

The NSF confirmed it would not engage in a dialogue with the president until the "blood baths" have stopped and those responsible are put on trial.

It further demanded an impartial judicial investigation into the killing, torture, and detention without trial of protesters, and "a fair trial for all those responsible, starting with the president, the interior minister and all his partners in those crimes."

The NSF called on Egyptians to demonstrate peacefully to demand their rights and "in defence of Egyptian dignity."

Shura MPs fault protesters for Tahrir Square rapes, sexual harassment

Gamal Essam El-Din, Monday 11 Feb 2013

Islamist MPs in Shura Council accuse local media of downplaying recent proliferation of sexual harassment and rape during anti-government rallies focusing instead on police brutality

At a Monday session of the Shura Council's human rights committee, Muslim Brotherhood deputies asserted that Tahrir Square – Cairo's foremost protest venue – had become "a hotbed" of prostitution, rape and sexual harassment.

According to Brotherhood MP and committee deputy chairman Ezzeddin El-Komi, "as many as 24 incidents of rape have been reported in Tahrir Square in recent days."

"No one has made any effort to fight this disturbing trend," El-Komi added, pointing out that one recent rape victim in Tahrir Square had been a female correspondent for Sky News TV.

He went on to wonder "why local media isn't mentioning this phenomenon after focusing so intently on the protester who was beaten and stripped [by security forces] outside the Presidential Palace last week."

Ahmed El-Khatib, deputy chairman of Alexandria's Appeal Court, agreed, asserting that "anti-government rallies have become fertile ground for incidents of sexual harassment and the proliferation of vice."

"The growing phenomenon of sexual harassment puts the onus on the political forces that are calling for these demonstrations," said El-Khatib. "If these forces aren't strong enough to secure their rallies against acts of rape, they should stop calling for them."

He urged the government to expedite the drafting of a new anti-protest law while toughening penalties against convicted sexual offenders.

Abdel-Fattah Othman, deputy interior minister for public security, meanwhile, confirmed that Tahrir Square had become "the scene of collective rape incidents in recent weeks."

According to Othman, the total number of reported acts of rape in Egypt last year stood at 129, while incidents of sexual harassment reached 9,468 for the same period – with Cairo accounting for the lion's share.

"Police should not be blamed for the proliferation of rape and sexual harassment incidents in Tahrir Square, since protesters there are generally peaceful and only interested in chanting political slogans," said Othman.

Mervat Ebeid, for her part, a female Brotherhood MP, urged women "to think twice" about participating in political demonstrations "so as not to become prey to sexual offenders and armed thugs who commit rape."

However, non-Brotherhood MPs, such as Nabil Azmi, argued that increasing incidents of rape and sexual harassment should not be used as justification for attacking political demonstrations, asking women to refrain from joining them, or issuing draconian anti-protest laws.

"Some MPs are not so concerned with combating rape and sexual harassment as they are with tarnishing the image of anti-regime rallies and scaring women from joining them," argued Azmi.

He added: "I'm afraid that security forces are only concerned with arresting peaceful demonstrators and torturing them rather than rounding up armed thugs who commit rape."

Mona Makram Ebeid, an appointed Coptic member of the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament, currently endowed with legislative powers), told Ahram Online that "by engaging in debates on rape and sexual harassment, Muslim Brotherhood MPs are trying to score political gains by tarnishing the image of democratic protests."

"I'm also afraid that these reactionary forces are trying to impose their code of conduct on women in Egypt, which includes intimidating them from participating in political activity," Ebeid added.

Committee members concluded the debate by recommending the establishment of "fixed places for female demonstrations." Members also rebuked female protesters "who insist on demonstrating with men in unsecure areas."

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