Friday, August 16, 2013

Egypt's sexual assault epidemic

Women at Egypt's protests often must fight more than the political cause that brought them into the streets.

 

It is the night of July 3, and on the streets of downtown Cairo thousands are celebrating the ousting of Egypt's deposed president, Mohamed Morsi. But below ground, in the police booth of Tahrir Square's metro station, Joanna Joseph is attempting to comfort a young girl.

She had been surrounded by dozens of men in the square, stripped and sexually assaulted. And now, on the request of her family, a medic is trying to conduct a virginity test on the floor of the police booth.

"I was shouting at the doctor not to touch the girl. The girl couldn't even cope with hearing the crowds," says Joseph, who is a volunteer with the Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign (OpAntiSh), a grassroots organisation set up in November 2012, which sends teams of volunteers to protests to intervene in mob assaults. "The policeman said he had received four or five girls in this state every day," she adds.

Since the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, then the Egyptian president, attacks like these have become an epidemic in Tahrir Square, the site of many of the protests. And in the week surrounding the ousting of Morsi, 150 such cases were reported. Many others, of course, go unreported. The level of violence involved is often extreme - in January, two teenage girls were raped with knives.

For the rest of the story: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/08/201381494941573782.html

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