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Revolution- not for women

Tahrir Square was transformed into a huge party venue on Wednesday for those celebrating the ousting of President Morsi. Fireworks lit up the night sky and the crowds were ecstatic. This time, the battle was not against a dictator but against a democratically elected government. President Morsi was overthrown by the military with the support of the people who had resolved not to let Islamists take over their country.  He pushed to impose Islamist views of the Muslim Brotherhood and this was against what the Egyptian liberals stood for. So they took to the streets and called for a revolution. However, this revolution has a dark side. According to feminist organizations like Nazra for Feminist Studies, as well as intervention groups like Operation Anti-Sexual Harassement and Tahrir Bodyguard 45, sexual assaults were reported in Tahrir on Wednesday, four of them severe. 26 incidents were reported on July 2 and 46 violent sexual assaults in the vicinity of the Square on June 30.

Tahrir Square, the historical place where the revolution began, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets two years back to oust a 30-year-long dictatorship. Women stood alongside men and protested. During the 18 days of the Revolution, women even stayed the night, sleeping next to men and were not scared. Then, everything changed for the worse.

11th February 2011. The dark side of the Revolution came to light on the night Hosni Mubarak’s government fell. Lara Logan, a CBS News Reporter was sexually assaulted by a group of around 200 men on Tahrir. In an interview Logan said “When women are harassed and subjected to this in society, they’re denied and equal place in the society. Public places don’t belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in society.”

Other women came forward and reported sexual assaults. Nobody really knows who to blame. There is no clear way to find out who the attackers are. Are the attackers paid by the Ex-General to create chaos or by the Muslim Brotherhood to stop protesting against them? Are the attackers backward Egyptians that refuse to acknowledge the voice of the women on the Tahrir?

There are many assumptions but no answers except the fact that through Mubarak’s regime to the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian authorities did little to curb the problem of sexual assaults and women have been repeatedly punished for their presence on the Tahrir.

This pushed Soraya Bahgat, a 29-year-old to take charge and she started the Tahrir Bodyguards’ network. Clad in yellow warn vests and helmets, men and women patrol in Teams during the demonstrations at the Tahrir Square. The bodyguards aim to provide women with the security of freely protesting at the Tahrir Square. The male bodyguards intervene and confront alleged attackers.

On Wednesday too, the bodyguards gave out hotline numbers over Twitter and mobilized themselves effectively. However, their help came a little too late for 45 women who were brutally assaulted.

Mubarak to Morsi and the now the interim government and the Army, the question remains: What will it take for Egypt to oust the sexual predators lurking at the Tahrir Square?

Author: Roma Rajpal

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Roma rajpal can be followed on Twitter @romarajpal


04.07.2013 | 15:46