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Egypt

    July 03, 2013

    Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher, blogs from Cairo

    While the world is focusing on the political fall-out of millions of people taking to the streets in Egypt, with widespread calls for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi, and the army taking over, other stomach-turning developments have passed virtually unnoticed: Women and girls protesting in the vicinity of Tahrir Square are, time and time again, being sexually attacked by mobs, with authorities remaining idle.

    This is not a new phenomenon.

    Testimonies from women caught up in the demonstrations, survivors from previous protests and those trying to help, point to a horrific chain of events: tens if not hundreds of men surround their victims, tearing-off their clothes and veils, unzipping trousers, groping breasts and backsides. Sticks, blades and other weapons are frequently used in such attacks.

    May 10, 2013

    Amnesty's Egypt Researcher Diana Eltahawy blogs from Cairo

    Today I attended the first hearing in the trial of 12 people, including three leading activists, at a Dar Al Qadaa Al-Ali court. They are accused of attacking and burning the campaign headquarters of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq on 28 May 2012.

    Amnesty International fears that the activists are being pursued in a politically motivated case, which comes amid the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and dissent.

    April 08, 2013

    Amnesty's Egypt researcher Diana Eltahawy blogs from Cairo

    On Sunday I attended the Cairo funeral of four Coptic Christians killed on Friday night in Khousous, a small town north of the city.

    I had been planning to travel to Khousous to find out more about the sectarian violence which led to the deaths there.

    Instead, I found myself caught up in more violence at the funeral itself — with mourners on one side, and unknown assailants and, later, security forces on the other.

    Before the clashes erupted, feelings of grief, anger and injustice were palpable inside Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, which was filled with mourners. Tears, prayers and wailing were drowned out by chants against the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, and vows to avenge the dead.

    Shortly after the caskets and funeral procession made their way out of the cathedral, violence broke out nearby between some of the mourners and assailants reported to be residents of the area.

    February 01, 2013

    Amnesty International's Egypt researcher Diana Eltahawy writes from Cairo.

    Almost every girl and woman – regardless of age, social status or choice of attire – who has walked the streets or taken public transport in Cairo, has experienced some form of verbal or physical sexual harassment.

    This isn’t new. For years, Egyptian women’s rights activists and others have called on the authorities to recognize the seriousness of the problem.

    There needs to be a fundamental shift in institutionalized attitudes that discriminate against women.

    The Egyptian authorities must introduce legal reforms, prosecute perpetrators and address root causes, because the plight of women who have experienced sexual violence has been ignored.

    Blame is placed on the victims for being dressed “indecently”, or for daring to be present in “male” public spaces.

    The horrific testimonies emerging following protests commemorating the second anniversary of the “25 January Revolution” have brought to light how violent mob sexual attacks against women have happened, but have rarely been brought to public attention.

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