Thursday, February 28, 2013

Worldwide protests against sex assaults on female demonstrators

Ahram Online

Tuesday 12 Feb 2013 

Protesters assemble in Cairo, as well as at Egyptian embassies in other countries, to protest recent sexual assaults on female protesters 

Bel Trew & Zeinab El-Gundy

Demonstrations took place outside Egyptian embassies and consulates in several countries on Tuesday to denounce the occurrence of violence against women and particularly against female protesters in Egypt.

While incidents of sexual harassment in Egypt are commonly reported, the issue has recently drawn more attention after it was reported that at least 20 incidents of mob sex attacks occurred during the protests on the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

Protests took place in several countries like Lebanon, Tunisia, France, Jordan and Palestine, called for by the Uprising of Women in the Arab World, a pro-women's rights Facebook page.

In Cairo, hundreds of protesters gathered at Talaat Harb Square near Tahrir holding pictures of female protesters who have been assaulted, holding slogans such as "you will not cross on the bodies of women.”
'I'm practising my right to protest as a human being first, before a woman'," Mariam Kirollos a member of the Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment movement told Ahram Online.

Kirollos added that the protest also condemns recent statements by the Shura Council, some members of which made statements to the effect that assaulted protesters were responsible for the act. "They're being rape-apologists," said Kirollos.

"They basically said that women are responsible for the horrendously violent attacks on Tahrir and said we should have specially designated areas for women to protest. We might as well as have a separate Egypt for women."

The protest was filled with chants such as: "Women ousted Mubarak, women will bring down Morsi," and "Control your sons, not your daughters."

Fafette Mazloum, an English teacher and one of the protesters, said that she believed the best way to counter sexual harassment was through educating people and providing them with positive images of Egyptian women.

"The problem is pre-conceived notions of what a western woman is or a woman wearing a short-sleeved top," said Mazloum who told Ahram Online that a passerby had told her that the protesters "do not look Egyptian."

"I had to correct him and say, no I'm Egyptian born and raised. He has a notion of what an Egyptian woman should act and look like. We had a long talk. In principle he believes that I have the right to be walk down the street without being harassed but he still has this idea of what it is acceptable for me to wear in order to be treated with respect," said Mazloum.

Other protests are also taking place in the Egyptian governorates of Alexandria, Mansoura and Damietta.

*Photo courtesy of Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

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