Friday, April 01, 2011

Every Egyptian woman I know have been subjected to groping or other kinds of street sexual harassment

This portion of a recent Democracy Now program shares how important it is that the Egyptians & the world promote women’s rights and participation in politics & government, even after the recent revolt that turned over a 30-year old regime. The important quote comes from Mona Eltahawy as she is interviewed about the role and issues of women in North Africa, e.g. Libya, and the Middle East.–KAS

AMY GOODMAN: Mona, you are Egyptian. Talk more about what women face in Egypt. I mean, even on the liberation night, the night of the tremendous celebration, the story of the CBS reporter Lara Logan, we still don’t know exactly what happened to her, but she was sexually abused in Tahrir.

MONA ELTAHAWY: Right. Well, you know, sexual harassment in Egypt, street sexual harassment, has been on the rise over the past few years. The levels are horrendous. You know, myself and every Egyptian woman I know have been subjected to groping or other kinds of street sexual harassment. And, you know, this is all a result of this growing conservatism in Egypt during the Mubarak regime, where the Mubarak regime would not only use an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam against its Islamist opponents, but the regime itself sexually assaulted women. In 2005, again to silence and shame women activists and journalists, the regime’s security forces and hired thugs would target women. Women showed their clothes that were ripped off. You know, women had headscarves ripped off. Simulated rape on women journalists and activists as a way of getting women off the street. And so, if the regime does that, then it’s green light that anyone—you know, women are fair game. So these are the obstacles in Egypt. And you saw it coming out on International Women’s Day, when women tried to march for women’s rights.

And, you know, what happened when Tahrir Square was opened was, those who didn’t join the revolution came out to Tahrir Square. So this kind of utopian atmosphere we had in Tahrir Square, you know, was ruined by people who came either from the Mubarak regime supporters or others who were not part of the revolution. So, women in Egypt and their male allies recognize that the revolution must continue not just politically, but also culturally and socially, as a way of ensuring that women’s rights do not disappear just because the Mubarak regime has been toppled and that women must continue this fight, along with their male allies.



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