Revolution's dark side: Women raped in Tahrir Square

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New Delhi, July 4: Tahrir Square in Cairo is called the birthplace of Egyptian revolution, but it is also the square of shame for Egyptians.

In the last four days, nearly 100 women have fallen victim to sexual attacks in Tahrir Square.

Mobs corner women, isolate them and then strip them. Women are then raped and in some cases their genitals are cut.

One of the victim was a 22-year-old Dutch journalist. She was gang-raped in Tahrir Square and had to undergo surgery for severe injuries.

In 2011, American journalist Lara Logan was beaten and sexual assaulted. She was also hospitalised.

Tahrir Bodyguard is an organisation, which aim to protect women at Tahrir Square. It was co-founded by Maria Munoz in response to violent attacks that took place during protests against the country's president last November.

How women are isolated

Maria Munoz describes the modus operandi of the mob in an interview to a television channel. She says, a group of men would isolate the girls. A big circle of 10, 20, 30 men, 40 men, up to 100 and 200 would just literally rape the girl with their hands, tearing her clothes apart.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that "mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square... amid a climate of impunity.

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HRW quoted figures from the Egyptian Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, which runs a hotline for victims of sexual assault, showing that there were 46 such attacks against women on Sunday, 17 on Monday and 23 on Tuesday.

Another women's rights group, Nazra for Feminist Studies, reported that there were another five attacks on Friday.

Several women required surgical intervention after the attacks, some were "beaten with metal chains, sticks, and chairs, and attacked with knives," HRW said.

The I Saw Harassment initiative said in a statement on Monday 51 instances of sexual assault were reported between Friday and Sunday.

Why women are targeted?

Egypt is a conservative country and men at Tahrir Square do not like women come out and demand rights. Sexual assaults are aimed at sending message to women that they should stay at home.

The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights says 83 per cent of Egyptian women and 98 per cent of foreign visitors experience one or more different forms of harassment in the country.

In Egypt, women have always suffered. Last year, a UNICEF survey showed 91 percent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15-49 said they had to undergo female genital mutilation.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality in May reported that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women interviewed said they had been subjected to some form of sexual violence. Rape victims almost never go to the hospital and certainly not the police as the police treat them as prostitutes.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women had issued a report in March on Egyptian women and called for allowing women full equality in marriage, allowing them to decide on matters of reproduction and abortion, and letting women take charge of family spending.

However, nothing seems to discourage women in Egypt. Thousands of women came on the the streets this week as they felt that Mohamed Morsi and his Islamist party are a threat to the rights of most moderate Egyptians.

The revolution is Egypt is looking to establish liberal values and gender equality should be most important of these values.

OneIndia News

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