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Rights group urges women to defend themselves on 30 June

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Women are urged to use industrial needles for self defence if harassed

Protesters hold up knives in a show of defiance during a protest in Cairo against rape and sexual harassment on 6 February 2013.  (AFP File Photo)

Protesters hold up knives in a show of defiance during a protest in Cairo against rape and sexual harassment on 6 February 2013.
(AFP File Photo)

Women’s rights group I Saw Harassment announced recommendations to limit violence against women during the upcoming 30 June protests, in a statement released on Tuesday.

The group, which aims to end sexual harassment, called on all women at the protests to carry industrial needles, usually used by mattress makers, to defend themselves in case they faced any form of sexual harassment.

“This is not a call for violence, it is none other than a means of self-defence,” the group said.

Women’s Rights activist Rawya Abdel Rahman said, “self-defence is a right, using any means.” She added that this is not violence.

I Saw Harassment called on the Ministry of Interior to take up a more active role in protecting women’s safety, and prosecuting perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence through the ministry’s recently launched violence-against-women department.

The group will set up an operations room on Sunday, 30 June at 10am, which will run 24/7, receive complaints through a hotline, and provide medical equipment and first aid kit for victims of sexual violence.  A doctor from Al-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence will be inside the operations room to provide victims with necessary medical and psychological care.

There also will be members of the group participating in marches, and spreading awareness on the different self-defence methods, as well as the number of the assistance hotline.

I Saw Harassment will operate “safe cars” all day to transport victims of harassment to three “safe houses” near the presidential palace, which will be operating 24/7.

Additionally, there will also be a rescue team that intervenes when complaints of harassment or mob harassment are made.

I Saw Harassment created these mechanisms after a meeting with representatives of Al-Dostour Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, according to the group.

On 25 January 2013, 19 cases of women being groped, verbally assaulted or raped were reported in Tahrir Square, after which an initiative called Tahrir Bodyguard was launched to make sure that women are not targeted during protests.

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