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Rights groups address plight of Egyptian women

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Violations on the rise, governmental representation not exceeding 6%, while trafficking persists

An Egyptian woman holding the widespread picture of a woman who was stripped and beaten by military police during clashes as Egyptians gather for a protest, Cairo December 20, 2011 (AFP File Photo)

An Egyptian woman holding the widespread picture of a woman who was stripped and beaten by military police during clashes as Egyptians gather for a protest, Cairo December 20, 2011
(AFP File Photo)

Egyptian women continue to suffer from different violations and poor representation in governmental institutions under the rule of President Mohamed Morsi, according to reports issued by the Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development Centre (ACT) and Fouada Watch on Tuesday.

The reports addressed women’s status in Egypt under Morsi’s rule, violence against female students, and trafficking in women in Egypt.

“Ever since Morsi assumed the presidency, conditions for women are in continuous deterioration. Even before him, during SCAF’s (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) rule, and after the 25 January Revolution, women are the most subjected to violations, as if the demand of ‘human dignity’ was not heard by whoever rules the country,” read the report titled “Women between Exclusion and Resistance”.

The report claimed that women suffered from many violations under SCAF rule, adding that the Muslim Brotherhood did not condemn or address those violations despite controlling the majority of the parliament’s seats.

The centre criticised Morsi for failing to meet women-related promises he pledged to fulfil, including empowering women and increasing their representation in the government. “However, these promises were not fulfilled as the Hesham Qandil cabinet came out with a 6% representation of women, with only two female ministers.”

Additionally, the report denounced the representation of women in Morsi’s presidential team, which includes Pakinam El-Sharkawy, a political science professor that the report says has a discriminatory stance against women; Sekina Fouad, who has since resigned; and Omayma Kamel, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), according to the report.

“The limited representation of women within the presidential team came to prove that women are not on Morsi’s agenda,” the report read.

The report discussed several violations from which Egyptian women suffer, including sexual harassment and rape. The report highlighted a rape incident that occurred in Suez in August 2012, where five men kidnapped a woman and raped her. Additionally, the report discussed the case of Nagla Wafa, an Egyptian woman who was detained in Saudi Arabia in 2009, before a Saudi court ordered her imprisonment for five years and flogging her 500 times. The report mentioned that Wafa appealed the verdict, but she remains in prison despite her appeal being accepted by the court. “The case was referred to court again, which reversed the appeal and approved the verdict again.”

On the other hand, the report asserted that women did not disappear from the Egyptian political scene, despite the aforementioned violations. It stressed women’s participation in several protests and elections that took place over the past two years.

Fouada Watch issued another statement titled “Stop Violence against Female Students” on Tuesday, where they announced the initiation of a new campaign to stop violence against female school and university students.

“Following the increasing violations against female students at different educational levels, in addition to the rise in sexual harassment rates within Egyptian universities and the immoral actions committed by some teachers, Fouada Watch announces its new campaign,” read the statement.

The campaign aims to provide students with legal protection against sexual assaults, raising awareness about the necessity of reporting incidents violating students’ rights, and working on adopting university bylaws criminalising sexual harassment within universities and subjecting those who violate these bylaws to suitable punishment.

ACT also published a working paper tackling the trafficking in women in Egypt.

The paper attributed the rise in incidents in trafficking in women to the poor performance of security bodies, which had several implications including early marriage and dropping out of the education system and increasing incidents of sexual harassment. It also linked the phenomena to the poor economic conditions many Egyptians suffer from, the poor representation of women on the governmental level, and the negative images portrayed by some Islamist groups against women.

The paper stated that street children are subjected to several violations, including  sexual abuse and being forced into begging. It added that the phenomenon of temporary marriages is on the rise in Egypt, where wealthy men from the Gulf region come to Egypt for seasonal marriages that last for only a few months. The paper claimed that those marriages include females under the age of 18.

The issue of Syrian refugees was also highlighted in the paper, which stated that an increasing number of men are working as mediators facilitating marriages of Syrian refugee women to Egyptians under inhumane conditions. The paper claimed that Syrian refugees in Egypt now exceeded 100,000.

The paper called for controlling the violations against women through founding “The Victims Assistance Fund”, providing victims of trafficking with psychological and financial assistance. It also called for implementing the laws criminalising human trafficking, in addition to raising awareness on the pervading problem across several societal sectors.

 

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Fady Salah

Fady Salah

Web Editor - Social Media Reporter


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