Harrassment of Egyptian women is a problem that needs confronting!

7 Jul

The NYTimes and The International Herald Tribune publish a series of articles under the title “The Female Factor.” Topics range from countries’ varying maternal leave policies, domestic violence statistics, women in politics, street protests, and issues  surrounding gender and sexuality worldwide. Yesterday’s article concerns the rampant sexual violence committed against women in Egypt.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/world/europe/06iht-letter06.html?pagewanted=1&src=recg

83% of Egyptian women reported being victims of sexual abuse, and 62% of Egyptian men reported being victimizers of sexual abuse. These numbers should be considered ballpark, given the amount of women who remain silent, and the amount of men who remain unknown.

The Egyptian protests on Tahrir Square included thousands of women, eager to take part and effect change. Such visibility was most likely not welcomed by all Egyptian men. In fact, a spokeswoman from the Muslim Brotherhood stated that women should adhere to strict dress codes and coverings, if they must be in public spaces. There has also been further criticism of women in the workplace and the public space, implying that it is her sheer visibility that renders her more likely victimized.

Comments like these are nothing more than dangerous red herrings. The truly awful statistics and the violent reality they illuminate did not appear after the protests of the late winter and early spring; therefore it is not women out in the world striving for autonomy, legitimacy, and personhood that is rendering them more likely targets for assault. Further, their persistent struggle despite the horrific odds of assault suggest instead that the average Egyptian woman is courageous.

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