Five Women Were Raped In Tahrir Square At The Prime Minister’s Inauguration

The same square where the Egyptian revolution took place back in 2011...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

In disturbing news that shows just how much change still needs to happen in the Middle East following the Arab Spring, five women were raped at the Egyptian prime minister’s inauguration earlier this week. Thousands of people had gathered in Tahrir Square – the centrepoint of the country’s revolution in 2011 – to celebrate their new prime minister, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

However, there were outbreaks of mobs, and some of them decided to gang rape women, according to I Saw Sexual Harassment, an Egyptian group promoting awareness of the everyday attacks women experience in the country.

A video of one of the attacks has been uploaded to social media. CNN isn’t showing it because it can’t be verified, and we probably wouldn’t show it anyway, as it’ll just be horrendous and depressing, but if true it shows that sexual assault in Egypt is still rife.

Seven men, aged 15 to 49, have been arrested in connection with the sexual assault, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed to CNN. However, the way the assaults were received by others has been less than exemplary. One Egyptian news anchor on TV wrote off the casual harassment reported at the scene as ‘boys being boys’, and, Buzzfeed reports, others were quick to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the attacks, saying the group wanted to dent Sisi’s achievements. The National Council of Women – a state-affiliated group – said: ‘The acts were meant to spoil the joy of Egyptians and their wedding of democracy.’

Either way, one of the victims, a 19-year-old student, is in hospital and said to be in a stable condition. It is not yet known what happened to the other four women.

On the brighter side, it’s great that I Saw Sexual Harassment exists, especially considering 99.3 per cent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment and 82 per cent of women feel unsafe in the street, according to a 2013 UN report from the Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

‘Unfortunately, we are now witnessing another wave of sexual harassment. We don’t have accurate numbers to report, but we can say many women, at least five we know about, were attacked by mobs last night,’ said Heba Mohamed, who works with I Saw Sexual Harassment.

Ironically, last week the outgoing president Adly Mansour approved a draft of a law which criminalises sexual harassment (yes, this is a law that, in 2014, still needs to be introduced into Egypt). Penalties extend to five years in prison and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds (£4,168.06).

Fingers crossed that this law will come into effect, and that with it, some serious social change.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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