Egypt: Women’s Rights and Violence
Egypt: Women’s Rights and Violence
Thursday, December 3,2009 06:38
By Zack

As part off the Stop Violence Against Women campaign, Bikya Masr has published a series of articles discussing the continuing struggle to protect women and secure their rights in Egypt.  Dalia Ziada writes that shocking incidents of sexual harassment are common on the streets of Cairo.  Before a particularly cruel incident in 2006, sexual harassment “was one of the biggest taboos in society” that was never discussed.  But despite an increase in discussion of the subject and even in light of Noha Roushdy’s recent case, which resulted in a prison sentence for her assailant, Ziada argues the culture of harassment continues because religious extremism has  corrupted the police and made women out to be causes, rather than the victims, of harassment.  Joseph Mayton writes about the litany of problems Egyptian women face in society, including sexual harassment, physical violence and harmful stereotyping against unmarried women.  Mayton then notes that negative incidents have sparked a debate among lawmakers about the need to legislate against these practises, but he questions the effectiveness of any law to change social norms. Lastly, Mayton has an op-ed arguing that women have always been the “catalyst toward the betterment of society” and as such activists and opposition leaders need to make women’s rights an integral part of their political and social campaigns.

In other news, Bikya Masr reports that Minister of State for Family and Population Moshita Khatab has made a statement at the conference “20 years on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and Islamic Shariah,” claiming that Egyptian social problems are cause not by a lack of public unity, but by the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-government influence. 

In the Guardian, Mayton has a third piece that argues the violence following the Egypt-Algeria match (see our post) is not a symptom of deeper social ills, but “thuggery cynically fomented by President Mubarak” as a means to channel the frustrations of the dispossessed onto the “other,” in this case Algeria.