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Sexual violence and provocateurs infect protests in Cairo | Hunter of Justice

Sexual violence and provocateurs infect protests in Cairo

by on November 28, 2011  •  In Uncategorized

From NPR's Weekend Edition:

…"There's far more pain here [during the most recent round of demonstrations," says Mohammed el-Batagy, a professor at Cairo University… "The square has witnessed orders of magnitude more violence than it had during the 18 days [of anti-Mubarak protests last winter]. There is fear, and then there is also infiltrators. They come in to just ruin the whole sit-in."

He says there is an atmosphere of suspicion toward outsiders this time around, with reason: There are agitators inside the square that el-Batagy claims were sent by the ruling junta…

Women, in particular, are bearing the brunt of the changing dynamics. CBS correspondent Lara Logan was the victim of a gang sexual assault on the day that former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak fell. Most women who stayed in the square during the 18 days say that sexual violence was rare during that period. Not any more.

"Many of my female friends have been groped or touched or experienced sexual violence in various ways and have hit people, says Mona el-Tahawy, a well known Egyptian journalist and activist. She was sexually harassed repeatedly by fellow male protestors in the square over the past week, but says her worst sexual assault came at the hands of the Egyptian security services…"I was basically left in this abandoned workshop cornered by four or five riot police," she says. "They just started beating me with their sticks and that's how I broke my left arm and broke my right hand. And then they dragged me into the no man's land. And that's where they sexually assaulted me."…

El-Tahawy says being sexually harassed by both protestors and police around the square underscores how much needs to change in Egypt. "We are also fighting what I call the 'fourth enemy' now," el-Tahawy says. "It's not just counter-revolution; it's not just tear gas; it's not just police brutality – it's sexual violence."

"My obsession now with the revolution is we are experiencing a political revolution in Egypt, but we need a cultural and social revolution," she says. And Tahrir Square is at the center of it. "Tahrir now has become this cauldron of all the problems in Egypt that we must start fixing now," el-Tahawy says. "That's why Tahrir is so important. Tahrir is not a square anymore. Tahrir is not a physical space anymore. Tahrir is a state of mind. Tahrir is a symbol — and not just for Egypt, for the entire world."

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