When the Arab Spring hit in early 2011, no one could have guessed what it might have meant for women’s rights in Egypt. But as the country continues to feel its way through a revolution, there is one surprising outcome — several citizen’s groups are now patrolling the streets of Cairo, and taking action against men that perpetrate violence against women.
If anything, the uprising has made violence and harassment against women more visible, say officials, and that’s spurred residents into action. Teenage boys as young as 16 are even joining the patrols. The groups are in response to a culture of government and police inaction, bolstered in part by a former regime that touted that violence against women was a non-issue in Egypt.
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Wonk-y magazine Foreign Policy‘s most recent issue, The Sex Issue, is right up our alley with a cover story article about the how the real war on women is in the Middle East. Author Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American writer who was beaten and sexually assaulted by police while protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Her piece, “Why Do They Hate Us?“, is worth a read on its own.
But images used for the piece are also causing controversy: an attractive, naked woman is covered in body paint made to look like a niqab (a body-covering veil), with only her eyes showing. Newsweek‘s Tumblr lauded the images as “powerful,” while a Tumblr blogger who goes by the name That Sassy Arab chastised the magazine: “Nope, newsweek [sic], this is not stunning and powerful, or awesome. This is highly offensive and completely misguided.” Other critiques of the images used by FP, and the article by by Eltahawy hereself, are here, here and here.
What do you think, Frisky readers? [Foreign Policy]
Bringing new meaning to the phrase “before the body gets cold,” Egypt is considering a new law that will allow Egyptian husbands to have sex with their dead wife’s corpse up to six hours after death. But don’t get your panties in a knot, ladies. Wives can have sex with their dead husbands’ corpse as well, because the issue at hand is whether marriage is still in effect after death. (Unless rigor mortis sets in southward, we don’t much see the point.) This very important matter of “farewell intercourse” is just one of many measures Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament is considering; the others are not so what-the-fuck as they are human rights abuses. Other laws being considered would restrict women’s access to education and employment and lower the minimum marriage age to 14. Pardon my pun, but those are the real issues here, even if they’re not as sexy as the necrophilia law. [Al-Arabiya; Daily Mail UK]
Sexual assault and the threat of sexual assault are used as a way to control women. Nowhere is that more present, lately, than in Egypt where female protesters have been forced to undergo “virginity tests” administered by soldiers when they are arrested and imprisoned. Yesterday, a Cairo court sided with protester Samira Ibrahim, age 25, who was assaulted with a “virginity test” after she was arrested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in March, and ordered that the military stop forcing its way into women’s bodies. The court’s ruling claimed, “These acts involve deliberate humiliation and intentional insult to women participating in protests.” Keep reading »
Last night on “60 Minutes,” reporter Lara Logan
shared with the world the horrific beating and sexual assault
she suffered in Egypt
‘s Tahrir Square while reporting on the country’s revolution. Since the incident
on February 11, the world knew Logan had been separated from her producer, cameramen and bodyguards and assaulted by a mob of angry men. Logan was eventually rescued first by Egyptian women who protected her until Egyptian soldiers plucked her from the angry mob. In a 13-minute long segment on “60 Minutes,” Logan gave a firsthand account of being at first molested and then raped “with their hands”
by hordes of men for approximately half an hour; her clothing was torn from her body, some of her hair was ripped out, and her limbs were pulled with such force so that her muscles were sore for days. Logan said she is speaking out now to put a public face and a story to the sexual assaults and rapes endured by women (and surely some men) in the news media while reporting. Many are reluctant to speak up about their assaults, lest it be used against them in advancing their careers — but not Lara Logan. She is a hero and a survivor. [CBS News
] Keep reading »
In February, the world held its breath when CBS’s “60 Minutes” reporter Lara Logan was badly beaten and sexually assaulted while covering the political uprising in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. After being rescued by civilians and a group of soldiers, Logan abruptly left her coverage and flew home to the U.S., where she was hospitalized for four days. Logan and CBS then released a statement.
Now, in an interview with The New York Times, Lara Logan has opened up publicly for the first time about the brutal assault. Keep reading »