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Therapy required for Shura Council

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Shura Council Human Rights Committee blames women for being victims of sexual assault

Rana Allam

Rana Allam

I did not want to write about sexual assault, wrongly called “harassment”. The topic is exhausted and there is really nothing more to say… except now the respectable, esteemed Shura Council of Egypt has discovered where the problem really lies and now that we know, we can fix it!

The problem is the women, so said the “men” of the national body of consultation, the body which became tasked with legislation after Morsi immunised it from dissolution by court order, for fear that it will be dissolved as the Brotherhood-dominated parliament was.

The Shura Council has always been a controversial body in Egypt. No one knows exactly why it exists or what it does. We only know that it costs us over EGP 1bn to hold the elections, and half a billion every month between running costs and “rewards” to its members. Of course, these numbers cannot be confirmed, as like everything in this country, this is classified information.

We also know that one of the demands we all voiced is to not have a Shura Council, and hence its elections were not given any importance. The only ones who cared about it were the Islamist bloc in the interests of taking over all the country’s institutions, be they important or not.

Now, the council is made up of 270 members, 90 of whom are appointed by the president. The rest were elected by 7% of the voting population of Egypt, meaning less than 4% of the Egyptian population. Yet the president found it important to keep the council, and protect it from the evil ones who abide by the law.

So basically you have a council made up of Islamists, supporting the president no matter what happens to their people. They have loyalty beyond what they have towards the religion they keep shoving in our faces every time we speak. Loyalty to Morsi that goes beyond humanity, beyond protection of the weak, and beyond the rule of law.

A type of loyalty that allows them to blame women for being sexually assaulted.

Let’s go back into recent history when all the politically motivated sexual harassment-cum-assault started. Back in the elections of 2005 the violations began, and the Ministry of Interior along with the support of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) orchestrated these assaults. Back then, they would send women to violate and harass other women.

For some reason, they then started using men for the job, probably because the women didn’t have the effect they wanted. I remember videos of girls dragged inside empty polling stations to get their share of the day’s violence. Activists and rights advocates and reporters were the only ones on the lists of victims.

As time went by, the job attracted more and more sick men, and the need for them grew. Right after the revolution’s 18 days of freedom from harassment came a flood of men with the job title of ‘Sexual Harasser’. They became more organised and moved and worked in packs, and it became very difficult for women and girls to go to Tahrir, especially since targets now include not only activists and reporters but any female protester who has a voice and calls for her dignity.

Any female who was detained during protests, starting from April 2011 with the Military’s virginity tests, will tell you how the police officers left her in the hands of their conscripts. Those who were not assaulted were threatened, and were witness to other ladies being violated. The crime was carried out publicly, unlike in Mubarak’s time.

Sexual violence during protests inside Tahrir Square is carried out by civilians targeting the women in organised assaults. This is a fact. Instead of having at least verbal condemnation from those in power, just to save face, they actually put the blame on the women.

The Human Rights Committee of the Shura Council had the audacity to say that “female protesters are to be blamed; they put themselves in this situation. They knew they were going to a place full of criminals. Before she [the victim] asks for the interior ministry to protect her, she should protect herself by not going there”. These are the words of Major General Adel Afifi, a member of the committee. Respectable Afifi also said that “children should be punished [detained and imprisoned] even if this is against international laws which adopt western ideas”.

One might expect a female member to object to this, but no, the woman in the committee, Mrs Mervat Ebeid, agreed with him, saying that “a girl should be rational and not go to places full of criminals”.

So we have a human rights committee in an elected Shura council believing that this is not politically-motivated organised assault against women, but is in fact a bunch of provocative women firing up the animalistic instinct of some thugs. No one seemed to note that the job of the interior ministry is to capture these “thugs” and get them off the streets!

Anyone who believes that 300 men would circle a girl, isolate her from her group, skillfully undressing her in a matter of seconds, then violate and assault her in a matter of minutes (in one case shove a blade into her vagina) because they are sexually frustrated or because she is sexually provocative is a mentally-challenged person in serious need of therapy and medication.

We, the women, demand a therapy department in the Shura Council!

About the author

Rana Allam

Rana Allam

Rana Allam is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News Egypt. Follow her on Twitter at @Run_Rana or email at [email protected]


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