Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Global outcry against rape in Egypt

"We will not stay silent. We will not be broken. We will not be ashamed."
Today, February 12, 2013, at 6 p.m. local time, people all over the world will gather in front of the nearest Egyptian embassy to say these words to protest the rape of, and violence against, women in Egypt.
The message is: “We, citizens of all nationalities, all around the world, will not watch in silence the spreading epidemic of sexual terrorism. We want to show our support, solidarity and admiration for the assaulted who paid the price of the ongoing Egyptian revolution with their own flesh, and to the heroic volunteers who are risking their lives for a safe Tahrir [Square].”
The global protest, planned by the The uprising of women in the Arab world  and several other groups, is against “sexual terrorism, a technique recently used extensively by organized mobs in Egypt aiming to injure, undermine, humiliate and scare female protesters in Tahrir Square, during the ongoing Egyptian revolution.”
What is it about violence against women in general, and rape in particular, in Arab Spring states?
Is the current focus on countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere highlighting this mounting problem?
Was it always there, but concealed from public view?
Women protest in Egypt
Are women more daring and courageous in speaking about their horrific experiences, whether because of a shift in attitudes or the support they are getting?
Has Social Media in any way helped abused women? Is it thanks to the various Social Media platforms that we are made aware of the violence against women -- not only in Arab Spring countries, but also in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mali, Europe, the United States…?
In a recent article, Rachel Elmalawany points out that women of every race suffer abuse. She says,What’s disturbing is the overwhelming idea that women in the Middle East are treated far worse than women in the United States when, in reality, women everywhere struggle every day to combat misogyny and abuse, and that includes American women…
 “The mistreatment of women is global and not a characteristic of any one nation or group of people. Clearly, abuse is as big of a problem for women in the United States as it is for women in Muslim majority and Middle Eastern countries. The myth that women are mistreated more in the Middle East is just that, a myth. What is true is that women everywhere suffer at the hands of those they trust the most.”
Yasmine El Baramawy
Yasmine El Baramawy, who was raped together with a friend in Cairo's Tahrir Square, is among the first to publicly expose the most recent outrages of rape around Egypt and during demonstrations in the plaza.
Yasmine shows TV viewers what remains of the clothing after the rape in Tahrir Square
She went live on Egyptian TV to publicly “challenge the sexual terrorism and expose the corrupt Egyptian society which considers a raped woman a shame.” Yasmine told of her ordeal and showed viewers what was left of the trousers she was wearing and the red shirt her friend was sporting.
  • We accuse the Ruling Party [in Egypt] for not taking strict measures to prevent organized thugs from attacking, stripping, raping, injuring and killing peaceful protesters;
  • We hold responsible the Egyptian police and governmental institutions for not offering the necessary protection and safety to female Egyptian citizens. Furthermore, the police practice the crime of sexual harassment/assault;
  • We blame past and present Egyptian governments for condoning the crime of sexual harassment/assault by not issuing any strict law that clearly provides legal consequences to sexual harassers or those that indulge in sexual violence. We demand the enforcement of a strict law against sexual harassment in all its forms;
  • We condemn the social acceptability of sexual harassment, violence and rape by the Egyptian society, which puts the blame on the assaulted instead of the aggressor;
  • We hold accountable irresponsible media for focusing on personal, intimate and sensationalist details of the assaulted, instead of covering the criminal act in a professional and ethical manner;
  • We urge every revolutionary group, political party or individual to speak up and take IMMEDIATE action against both the sexual attacks committed by organized mobs aiming to tarnish the image of Tahrir and terrorize the protestors, and the sexual harassment targeting Egyptian women and girls on a daily basis in the streets of their own country; and
  • Fighting sexual humiliation and aggression should be a TOP PRIORITY in the noble endeavor for freedom and dignity of the Egyptian people.
  • We salute every hero and heroine of the ongoing Egyptian revolution! 
  • You teach us courage, perseverance and determination.

By Amgad Ali
Why is violence against women still so widespread around the world?
I keep asking myself the question and wondering where the solution lies. Is it in laws, severe punishment, naming and shaming or education?
In the meantime, we protest these barbaric acts and support the victims: "We will not stay silent. We will not be broken. We will not be ashamed."
You can check out the global events being organized around the world -- including Cairo, Tunis, Aden, Ramallah and Yaffa in Palestine, Rabat, Damascus, Beirut, Amman, Ko Samui in Thailand, Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels, Paris, London The Hague, Milano, Washington DC, New York, Ottawa, Melbourne and elsewhere -- by visiting the Global Event Facebook page.