31 January 2013

Egypt: UN Concerned About Rising Violence Against Female Protesters

The top United Nations official tasked with advancing gender equality today expressed “deep concern” about the escalating violence against women in Egypt, particularly those protesting in the days following the second anniversary of the revolution.

“UN Women is deeply disturbed by the gravity of recent attacks against women, including the reports of sexual assault, many of which occurred in the same Tahrir Square in which women rallied to contribute to a better future for their country,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement.

Some 25 women were reportedly sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo in demonstrations in recent days, in some cases with extraordinary violence, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). High Commissioner Navi Pillay deplored the attacks and the fact that authorities have failed to prevent them or bring the perpetrators to justice.

According to reports, tens of thousands of people took part in the demonstrations against President Mohammed Morsi, two years after mass protests toppled then President Hosni Mubarak and led to a transition period in the country.

Dozens of people were reportedly killed in the latest wave of protests and more than 1,000 injured. The violence spurred Mr. Morsi to declare a 30-day state of emergency and curfew in Ismailia, Suez and Port Said districts.

In her statement today, Ms. Bachelet urged Egyptian leaders to put in place the legislation and mechanisms that ensure the protection of women and children, and to promote human rights for all.

“As a vibrant force in civil society, women continue to press for their rights, equal participation in decision-making, and the upholding of the principles of the revolution by the highest levels of leadership in Egypt.”

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