“Eighty-two per cent of women across Egypt have suffered from verbal and physical harassment in the streets and transportation,” Ambassador Mervat Al-Tellawy, president of the National Council for Women (NCW) said in the opening statement of a press conference on violence against women.
The conference, titled Towards a Secure Life for Egyptian Women, was held on Sunday on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“This year the NCW held a campaign to gather one million signatures from Egyptian women to fight violence against them,” Tallawy said.
She added that studies conducted on a national level showed that domestic violence against women was as high as 60 per cent in some governorates; 88 per cent were subjected to genital mutilation, and 38 per cent were forced into marriage before they turned 18.
Maya Morsy the national coordinator of UN Women in Egypt talked about women’s right to equality, participation in the society, and the right of choice, safety and freedom.
“It’s time for governments to translate promises they made to women into actions and laws” she said.
UNICEF representative in Egypt Philippe Duamelle said “women should have access to justice, medical and psychological assistance… men should be a part of the solution; I’m a father and a husband and I have to educate and defend my family and others.”
Nasr Al-Sayed, secretary general of the National Council for Childhood and Womanhood stressed the importance of educating women, to eliminate violence, traditions like female genital mutilation and waterborne diseases like bilharzias.
Al-Sayed commented on the court sentence against a teacher in Luxor for cutting the hair of two students. The teacher was given a six month suspended prison sentence, “such verdict will deter those who commit violent acts against girls in schools,” Al-Sayed said.
He also described the “threat” to women’s rights that the newly drafted constitution poses.
Media professionals like Amr Al-Leithy and Hoda Rashwan were honoured for their role in highlighting women’s issues and fighting domestic violence.
The conference featured a presentation of a study conducted by Bothaina Al-Deeb, an expert at the demographic centre of the Institute of National Planning.
In 1999 the UN General Assembly designated 25 November as The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The date commemorates the brutal assassination of three political activists in the Dominican Republic in 1960, the Mirabel sisters, upon orders from the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo.