Friday, March 29, 2013

Are You Being Groped Like an Egyptian ?

In a powerful scene from the 2010 Egyptian film ''678,'' a veiled woman boards a crowded public bus on her way to work, squeezing through a mass of passengers in search of a space where she will feel least vulnerable. Inevitably, though groping hands reach her and she has no choice but to endure or try to quietly move away. For many women in Egypt, this scene is far too familiar -- warding off potential harassment has long been a part of their daily lives. A study conducted in 2009 found that 83% of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed in public and nearly half described the harassment as occurring on a daily basis. Few women file formal complaints against attackers, either out of fear, embarrassment, or the recognition that the police are unlikely to pursue such cases, but that's about to change soon. The women have had enough!

Unfortunately, in recent months, this atmosphere of impunity has combined with Egypt's volatile politics to produce a spike in harassment and a new trend of violent sexual attacks. These mob attacks are directed primarily against women demonstrators in Tahir Square. On the second anniversary of the Egyptian uprisings on January 25, at least 19 female demonstrators were sexually assaulted! The reports are shocking. In first-hand accounts, women have described being suddenly set upon by large groups of ugly bearded men, were groped, stripped of their clothing and raped. At last one woman was sexually assaulted with a bladed weapon.

Yet the Morsi administration has done absolutely nothing to respond to this unprecedented, intensely violently and seemingly organized wave of attacks. Inconceivably and unconscionably, the deadshit Egyptian president has yet to utter a public word to acknowledge the problem. His prime minister, Hisham Qandil, has offered only a passing reference to possible new legislation to address the issue. With clear video evidence of attacks shown on television and online, the government either lacks the will or the ability to confront the situation. There are strong rumours that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind these attacks as means of discouraging women to join the ranks of the protesters.

More unfortunate than the government' failure to act is the exacerbation of the problem by some among the Salafi leadership. During a meeting of the Shura Council, elected officials blamed the victims for their attacks. A Salafi preacher, Ahmad Mahmoud Abdullah, known as ""Abu Islam'' and owner of a private television channel said raping and sexually harassing women protesters in Tahrir Square is justified, calling them ''crusaders'' who ''have no shame, no fear and not even feminism.''  This pile of Camel-Dung further described these female political activists as ''devils.''  He added, ''They should learn from Muslim women about behaving modestly. There are Muslims and Muslimix.''  Abu Islam was apparently referring to liberal Muslims as ''Muslimix.'' At best, the Morsi administration's failure to address the problem stems from a belief that sexual harassment is a natural consequence of women participating in highly emotional demonstrations.

The Way I See It....this month's United Nation's announcement of an Accord on Women couldn't come soon enough. The Accord urges states to ''strongly condemn'' all forms of violence against women and girls, and to refrain from provoking ''any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations'' thereby eliminating violence against females. While the declaration of the commission is not binding, diplomats and rights activists say it carries enough global weight to pressure countries to improve the live of women and girls. Russia, the Vatican and some Muslim states objected to references to reproduction rights, but did not block its adoption. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood warned the Accord would lead to the ''complete degradation of society.'' (As if my expose above hasn't already shown that Egypt is already a degraded society).

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said violence against women is ''a heinous human rights violation, global menace, a public health threat and a moral outrage."  One doesn't have top look far from the news headlines to read of honour killings, India's bus-rape killing, clitoectomies, 12 year old girl marriages in Sudan and the unbelievable report of a 15 year old rape victim being sentenced to be whipped 100 times for sex-outside-marriage, in public, in the Maldives! (The girl's step-father raped her for years and even murdered the baby she bore and yet she pays for this Muslim stupidity). Ban Ki-Moon added, ''That every woman and girl has the universal human right to be fre of all forms of intimedation and violence so as to fulfill her full potential and dreams for the future.''

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