2 July 2013

Egypt: Govt Uses Sexual Assaults for Political Gains - NGO

Photo: Al Jazeera English
Women protest in Egypt (file photo).

Reports of sexual harassment during the mass protests against Islamist President Mohamed Mursi across Egypt were up to 46 confirmed incidents, according to the final report issued by the Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment group (OpAntiSH).

The sexual assaults started in the evening of June 30, ranging from collective harassment to rape of female protesters with knives and sharp objects.

"The entrances to Tahrir Square are where women are most vulnerable to harassment and gang-rape," said the report, adding that some of survivors of the attacks were in need of medical treatment, including a surgical operation.

The anti-harassment group estimated the total number of assaults to be higher, "but this is the number of the incidents in which we could intervene and monitor."

"A single case of gang-rape is abhorrent to society as a whole; women's lives and bodily integrity are not reducible to numbers and statistics."

OpAntiSH added that it received reports of attempted kidnappings of female protesters, which it described as a reflection of the general rise of sexual violence against women that is "perpetrated by society and the state."

The anti-harassment group stressed that these assaults are aimed at negatively affecting women's participation in public and poltical life.

Furthermore, OpAntiSH expressed distress at the government's general attitude towards the mass sexual assaults, saying, "The Presidency exploited these incidents for political gains."

"The government has traditionally dealt dismissively with reports of sexual harassment and rape," the report added.

OpAntiSH reiterated its call for political parties and groups to take concrete steps such as providing protection for the entrances of Tahrir Square, particularly those that are notorious for sexual assaults.

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