“The fear is broken. Everyone talks about politics. In the past, women and girls didn’t talk about sexual harassment, but now they do and they are fighting back against it.” Azza Suleiman, head of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Aid
Add your name to Amnesty’s call to protect women’s rights in Egypt.
The human rights of women in Egypt are under threat.
Women protesters standing up for their rights have faced horrific sexual violence around Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square. Dozens of new attacks were reported during mass protests around June 30, 2013 marking the end of President Mohamed Morsi’s first year in office. The attacks did not end with Morsi’s ousting by the military on July 3rd. Regardless of the context, the attacks appear to be aimed at deterring women from attending protests and voicing their demands. Some Egyptian parliamentarians have even blamed the activists themselves for the violence.
The authorities have done little to stop the sexual violence or bring those responsible to justice. Despite repeated promises, they have also failed to end discrimination against women in law and practice, or to appoint women to key positions in government.
No one has been held accountable for sexual violence against women by members of the military and police under the previous period of army rule.
The current political uncertainty should not mean that the issue of sexual violence against women is ignored. Egypt's leaders must condemn sexual violence in all its forms, and put in place a comprehensive plan to protect women’s rights.
Where is the revolution for women in Egypt?
Women were onthe front line of the popular rebellion in 2011, but since then the authorities in Egypt have sent mixed signals about their understanding of and commitment to realizing women’s equality and human rights.
On March 24, 2013, former President Morsi – who ran on a platform supporting women’s equality – launched a joint initiative between the Presidency and the National Centre for Social and Criminological Research under the title: “Support initiative for the rights and freedoms of the Egyptian woman.”
However, during his opening speech, President Morsi failed to address violence against women including sexual violence, focusing instead on other concerns facing women in Egypt including unemployment and illiteracy. Women’s rights activists were reportedly not invited to take part in the event and a member of the National Council for Women (NCW) publicly criticized the initiative for not involving the body.
Regardless of who is n power in Egypt, any initiative aimed at defending and promoting the rights of women must entail meaningful consultation of independent women’s and human rights groups.
What else you can do:
While many of Egypt’s leading political parties have condemned the violence against women around Tahrir Square, they have also used it as a way of blaming their opponents, rather than condemning the discriminatory attitudes that have fuelled it. Some members of the Nour Party have blamed women activists for sexual violence. It is important to ask questions about all the parties’ statements on sexual violence and women’s rights.
Write letters calling on all of Egypt’s political leaders to:
- Condemn sexual violence and discrimination in Egypt without reservation.
- Press for a comprehensive strategy to combat sexual violence and discrimination.
Nour Party Leader: Younes Makhioun
Social media streams: facebook.com/AlnourParty and twitter.com/naderbakkar [Spokesperson]
Constitution Party Leader: Mohamed ElBaradei
Social media streams: facebook.com/shabab.taghyeer and @ElBaradei
Conference Party Leader: Amre Moussa
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Social media streams: facebook.com/amre.moussa and twitter.com/amremoussa
Some suggested tweets and hashtags:
#Egyptsexualviolence #NoToSexualHarassment #WomensRights #Egypt #vaw #endSH
“No ‘ifs’. No ‘buts’. All Egypt’s political leaders should condemn sexual violence and discrimination”
“Time for Egypt’s political leaders to come up with a plan to combat sexual violence and discrimination”
“Blame the harasser, not the harassed.”
“Enough with justifications for sexual harassment and assault.”
Graffiti on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Cairo, October 2012. © Amnesty International