[Trigger Warning for every link, sadly, regarding sexual assault and violence!]
Well, this is simply sickening… As reported yesterday, Egyptian women* (and a number of men*) who protested the sexual harassment, assaults and degradation they have to face on a daily basis, were attacked and sexually assaulted by groups of men* in Tahrir Square. The incidents described are horrible, and I am sure the perpetrators were aiming at this grim irony of being in a social position that allows the physical silencing and humiliation of people, mostly women*, who dare criticize said position and behavior.
I am, obviously, somewhat reluctant to write about international feminist issues concerning countries I have little sociological knowledge of and am personally unfamiliar with. It is, to me, a fine line to tread between cultural dominance of (Black) Feminist Thought that belittles activists and movements, and cultural relativism that is just plain, non-solidary privilege.
This, however, is a no-brainer when it comes to the need to comment…
Despite having been a major force in Egypt’s version of the “spring revolution”, women* did not only experience violence from Mubarak’s old regime, but are now again confronted with the same misogynistic ideas and tactics.
The now infamous torture and sexual violence against women, e.g., as shown in the “virginity” tests by (former) Egyptian military, the sexualized assault by (current) Egyptian troops on an unidentified woman* (that sparked a march of thousands of Egyptian women* in Cairo) and the sexual assault on Lara Logan, both in Tahrir Square, and the mere fact that 83 per cent of Egyptian women have had to endure street harassment, half of them daily, are clear examples for the explicit intent to systematically, violently degrade and frighten women* from being a presence and an influence in public life (or anywhere else, for that matter).
There isn’t much to explain here; things are so plain, so despicable, so frightening – so, I’ll keep it short:
I have nothing but admiration for all the women* who still protest, march, speak up, teach [I have certain issues with this interview, particularly regarding the depiction of the US and what I believe is a, well, oversimplifying analysis of capitalism, but I think it is important to give Nawal El Saadawi, who has been protesting in Egypt for decades, a publicly heard voice], and challenge this situation in any possible way, and I have nothing but contempt for the people responsible, which includes those who condone or excuse the ugly face of openly celebrated misogyny.
I hate writing sad/outraged notes about discrimination without being able to point to at least a bit one can do right now, but I have yet to find a live, transparent campaign or petition or group one can support in or from Europe to back the women* fighting the good fight in Egypt. Suggestions are most welcome! So far, this is all I got (and it isn’t exactly clear who’s the initiator, so, um… not ideal): Egypt Solidarity Campaign.