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Egypt’s sex attacks on women are revenge for the 2011 revolution

18 22 0
25.01.2020

The first time Sarah Mehanna was arrested security forces lined her up against a wall and described her body in intimate detail.

“If we find any photo of the demonstration on your phone, we will rape you,” they told her.

It was 2017 and Sarah had been taken to Dokki Police Station from a protest she had been covering for the Bawabet Yanayer website.

She was prepared, but she was still shocked.

“We as women discuss before participating in any demonstration what we would do if we face sexual attacks,” explains Sarah. “We ask ourselves that before asking what we would do if we face the security forces’ bullets.”

READ: Egypt proposes bill to criminalise child marriage

In Egypt it’s well known that authorities hire baltagiya – regime thugs – to infiltrate protests and to sexually abuse women.

Authorities attack women at police stations, inside prisons, at checkpoints, on prison visits to their families and in their homes during raids.

Egyptian women hold placards during a demonstration protesting violence against women in Egypt on 22 December 2015 [Amr Sayed/Apaimages]

Egyptian women hold placards during a demonstration protesting violence against women in Egypt on 22 December 2015 [Amr Sayed/Apaimages]

Nine years on from Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising, this is the reality for women in Egypt – verbal and physical sexual abuse of politically active women carried out by Egyptian authorities has become standard procedure.

Amid the cautious optimism of the 2011 Tahrir protests, women stood among the crowds and demanded they play a key role in Egypt’s political life.

They were tired of the Mubarak-era when women routinely had their rights violated, particularly when it came to political participation, and wanted to be integrated into public work.

But instead of giving women a key role in change, their presence terrified the establishment:

After the revolution, women knew the value of their voice, its impact, and its importance in society. As she asked for her rights, the oppression increased

says Sarah.

“Violence against women in Egypt is not only by her family, nor men in the street, but also extended to the men in power,” she continues. “Instead of protecting them, they have become the biggest threat to them. Security forces use sexual violence as a threat to stop their political participation and demand a just life.”

Since he........

© Middle East Monitor