Women Detainees in Egypt’s Prisons Under Military Coup

Women Detainees in Egypt’s Prisons Under Military Coup

 During the period of August 14, 2013 until end of December 2017, the coup militias arrested more than 2,500 girls and women in Egypt, 49 of them remained behind the walls, according to the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms’ report on Human Rights Situation in 2017 and other reports prepared by independent legal researchers.

According to human rights activist Fatima Abdulla, who’s concerned with detainee girls and women, 154 of them were forcibly disappeared then reappeared, 13 cases were exposed to medical negligence, three of them were in critical condition, 5 of them were sentenced to death in absentia or in their presence, according to Arabi21 news website.

Fatima Abdulla added, according to the same reports, 133 females were killed during demonstrations, in addition to 176 death cases, either as a result of medical negligence in prisons or in road accidents in their way to visit detainee relatives in prisons. In addition to 356 cases of abuse during arbitrary detention when they visit their detainee relatives in prisons.

The human rights activist said that the number of females referred to military trials in their presence and in absentia was 23 cases, in addition to the expulsion of 526 female students from their universities, and 304 cases were sentenced in their presence or in absentia with a total of 1274 years and 3 months. The total bail amount and fines that were paid on behalf of female detainees is nearly three million Egyptian pounds ($175,000). The number of females listed on the terrorism lists reached 93, and their assets were confiscated. Additionally, 106 females were placed on travel ban lists.

Fatima Abdulla added that there are many security pressures surrounding her work on the rights of women detainees. At the beginning of the military coup, the National Council for Women and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood were notified, but they ignored the complaints and refused even to show solidarity with women detainees. The same was repeated by other women’s NGOs such as the New Woman’s Association, the Egyptian Center for Women.  Hundreds of complaints were filed, at the Attorney-General’s office, regarding forcible disappearances and abuses against female detainees, but they did not stir a finger.

On the case of Zubaydah, which was recently revealed by the BBC’s report, the human rights activist, Fatima Abdulla, said that they had documented Zubaydah’s case from the beginning. However, there is something ambiguous about the matter; according to her mother’s testimony, she was harassed when she was detained the first time, other witnesses confirmed that she was raped in the second detention, and that they contacted the doctor who tried to abort her pregnancy at her own clinic, but it did not work since she was in the third months of her pregnancy. Her appearance with journalist Amr Adib raises suspicions that she was in detention with her husband.


Thorny File

For his part, the Executive Director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, the human rights activist Ezzat Ghoneim, said that dealing with the women detainees file is thorny, because of the nature of the cases they deal with, pointing out that the arrest of females reached its peak during 2014 and 2015; then it turned intermittent.

Ghoneim added that the abuses they monitored were mostly violations committed in prisons and places of detention. He said that his organization managed to document some cases and failed in others. Even in documented cases, their parents are demanding that nothing be disclosed about them for fear of social problems.

As for other harassment, the human rights activist points out that it varied between detention among criminal female prisoners, banning visits, intimidations, preventing them from continuing education, and the absence of proper health care. The worst abuse is forcible disappearance.

Ghoneim added that Egypt now has several investigative bodies, namely the General Prosecution Office, the Supreme State Security Prosecution, and the Military Prosecution. Thus, the diversity of the investigative bodies represents a difficulty in complete documentation, but this does not mean that these figures are not documented. They are documented based on reports by women detainee families, prosecution investigation minutes, and the arrest orders.