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September 17, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

bikyamasr: Egypt woman sexually assaulted, then murdered

CAIRO: A 20-year-old Egyptian woman was murdered earlier this month after being sexually assaulted, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) reported.

According to their statement on the incident in Upper Egypt’s Assuit, the young woman had been walking on a main street with a friend when a man began grabbing her body.

She then turned around and spit in his face and reportedly verbally lashed back, saying “I will get my rights back. I will get my rights back against your will.”

The ECWR said that after she said the words, the man pushed her to the ground, kicking her before shooting her multiple times.

She died in a matter of minutes, the report said.

“This is [a] terrible crime [that] happened within the increase of sexual harassment which is considered a cancer that should be treated as soon as possible,” ECWR said in their statement condemning the murder.

The women’s rights organization has called for the arrest and prosecution of the man for the murder of the young woman.

It comes as sexual violence toward women continues to plague Egypt, with reports of increased violence and harassment being reported by women across the country.

The ECWR is hoping that a draft law they sent to President Mohamed Morsi late in August will be the forerunner for a draft law that will criminalize sexual harassment on Egypt’s streets.

The same draft had been sent to government officials in recent years, but the ECWR said that they have received no response from any official on the matter.

Earlier this month, the head of the National Council of Women (NCW) Mervat Tallawy said that Egyptian women are harassed, on average, “7 times every 200 meters.”

Her comments came as the issue of Egypt’s sexual harassment epidemic continued to make international headlines.

June this year saw some of the worst attacks against women, with both foreigners and Egyptians reporting that they had been sexually assaulted in the square take place following the disbanding of Parliament.

“I was walking in the square and was hoping to be part of the calls for the SCAF to leave power when a man behind me grabbed by butt and started saying disgusting things to me,” one woman told Bikyamasr.com.

“He asked if I was a slut and then swore at me when I yelled at him,” she added.

Others also reported being harassed on social media networks, highlighting the growing concern facing women in the country.

Earlier in the month, an anti-sexual harassment demonstration organized by over 20 Egyptian women’s groups in protest against the recent escalation of assaults in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was attacked about an hour and half after it began by unknown troublemakers.

The participants reported being attacked by a mob of “thugs” who attempted to throw rocks and glass at them, but the clash was over quickly as volunteers securing the protest intervened to stop it.

This was not the first time a women’s rights march was attacked in Tahrir Square.

Last March, and on International Women’s Day, a march of tens of women was attacked by a cynical mob of men who did not like women protesting for more rights.

Several female protesters were injured and one woman had to have 8 stitches in her head. Almost all of them were groped and sexually assaulted in the attack.

A 2008 study by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) found that well over two-thirds of Egyptian women are sexually harassed daily in the country.

The participants held signs that read “It is my right to protest safely,” “Groping your sister is shameful for the square” and “Be a man and protect her instead of harassing her.”

“We are fed up,” protester Mai Abdel Hafez, 24, told Bikyamasr.com.

“We came to deliver a message that it is our right to protest and we will not avoid the square in fear of harassment,” she said right before the attack took place.

But with the Eid holiday just passed, women find it difficult to forget the beginning of holidays in Egypt, or “fear season,” when dozens of young men and boys grobed and mobbed women outside a downtown Cairo theater.

That event, in 2006, highlighted the issue of sexual harassment and sexual violence against women in the country, spurring campaigns and online debate. However, much of that debate and anger over the treatment of women seems to be silenced after a day or two, with many returning to what they call “more important issues.”

The issue of sexual harassment and violence has left many Egyptian women remaining at home during the holiday season this year.

And on the first morning of Eid el-Fitr, groups of young men were seen by Bikyamasr.com antagonizing women on downtown Cairo’s Qasr el-Aini street, where they were getting in the face of female passersby.

“They just yelled horrible things at us and asked us for sex,” said one of the women. “This is what Egypt has become for us, especially during holidays.”

BM

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