by Cristina Finch, AIUSA Managing Director – Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International researchers near Tahrir Square have uncovered a disturbing wave of rape and other sexual violence against women sweeping through demonstrations in Egypt. With alarming frequency, women and girls demonstrating near Tahrir Square are being sexually assaulted by mobs. Authorities have turned their backs on survivors.
In the past few days, survivor stories have been pouring in, and they paint a horrific scene. Tens if not hundreds of men isolate and surround a woman or girl (sometimes even separating mother and daughter), tearing off her clothes and veil, unzipping her trousers, and groping her breasts and backside. Sticks, blades and other weapons are used in these attacks.
Women’s groups collaborating with Amnesty have reported over 90 attacks in June, and 80 attacks and growing in July. Equally appalling – Egypt’s lawmakers blame the women for the violence. Members of parliament told survivors that they brought the attacks upon themselves by attending the protests, and that women should not mingle with men during demonstrations.
Authorities also told survivors – we have bigger priorities. Wrong response! There is no greater priority than defending the human rights of your citizens.
The repetition of these frightening attacks is a stark reminder of how successive Egyptian governments have failed to address gender-based violence and discrimination.
Click here to call on Egypt’s political leaders to condemn and take action to end sexual violence.