Egyptian Protests Shed Light on Rape Epidemic


BY MARY STROKA

Photo by Gigi Ibrahim from Cairo, Egypt [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Egyptian media reported that a Dutch journalist was raped by five men during the protests in Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood-supported president Mohamed Morsi earlier this week. She has since been hospitalized. Her case is one of at least 46 reported cases since the protests have begun.

Maria Munoz, co-founder of Tahrir Bodyguard, said in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "PM" that some of the women are injured so badly that they may have died if they had not received immediate medical assistance. Munoz said that it is a common occurrence during protests -- in broad daylight -- and that "police do nothing." Tahrir Bodyguard volunteers try to prevent sexual harassment and, in the case of assault, they intervene and bring the woman out of the square and to a safe place. She said the media has started to talk about sexual assault, but that it has been taboo.

An article from The Daily Beast also states that rape has been a common occurrence in Tahrir Square during major gatherings. A spokesperson from Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, another Egyptian group working to end sexual violence in the square, said, "This is the reality Egyptian women face today."

I'm all in favor of the freedom of speech, but the high incidence of rape during these protests is atrocious. I wonder what would have the greatest impact in the effort to end sexual harassment and assault during such protests. Now that the military has ousted Morsi from power, I wonder if the new government will do more about such violence. What do you think?

#abuse #sexualassault

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