Monthly Archives: June 2012

Journalist Natasha Smith assaulted in Tahrir Square

Article courtesy to The Independent

A student journalist has described how she was the victim of “a horrific sexual and physical attack” by an Egyptian mob.

Natasha Smith, a student at University College Falmouth, said she was attacked in Cairo’s Tahrir Square while filming a documentary.

It is not the first time women journalists working in the area have been attacked – last year US correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted in the square while working for CBS television.

Writing on her blog, Ms Smith said: “I have been forced to leave Cairo prematurely following a horrific sexual and physical attack in Tahrir Square.”

The student, who went to school in Budmouth, Dorset, was walking near the square with two male friends when the atmosphere of “jubilation, excitement and happiness” changed “in a split second”.

She said: “Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression. I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.”

She described how “hundreds of men” dragged her away and ripped off her clothes.

Ms Smith said: “I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

“Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way. So many men. All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.”

She described how “a small minority of men” tried to protect her and sheltered her in a tent before she was smuggled away disguised in a burka and taken to hospital.

Ms Smith said she is “determined” to return to Egypt to complete her work, adding: “I have so much to say, and I will say it, in time.”

Related articles:
Please God. Please make it stop, by Natasha Smith

CNN Edition: UK journalist assaulted in Tahrir Square: ‘Please make it stop’

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Silencing the voice of Pakistani singer Gazala Javed

Pakistani singer Ghazala Javed – photo copied from the Internet

From CNN:
A popular female Pakistani singer who defied the Taliban’s decree against singing and dancing was shot and killed in northwest Pakistan Monday night, police and hospital officials told CNN.

Authorities described the singer’s ex-husband as a suspect in the case, and said early indications were that the Taliban were not involved, according to police official Imtiaz Altaf.

Ghazala Javed, who recorded scores of songs in her native Pashto language and became a household name among young, progressive ethnic Pashtuns in northwest Pakistan, had just left a beauty salon and was driving home with her father when gunmen on a motorcycle raced towards their car and sprayed it with bullets, Altaf said.

Javed was hit with six bullets and pronounced dead at a hospital in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, according to hospital official Rahim Afridi. Javed’s father also was killed, police said.

Reports: Pakistanis murdered for dancing

In recent years the rise of the Pakistani Taliban in the region and the group’s ban against singing and dancing made it difficult for Javed and other musical artists to perform and record songs in Pakistan. Javed recorded and taped many of her latest songs and music videos in nearby Dubai.

Last year Javed made headlines when she asked for a divorce from her husband after she reportedly found out that he had at least one other wife. It was a rare decision in a deeply conservative and male-dominated society where many view a woman’s demand for a divorce as a dishonor to the husband.

Shortly after Monday night’s shooting police released a statement saying Javed’s sister had accused her ex-husband and two of his acquaintances

Investigators said a search was underway for the three men.

No matter who was behind Javed’s death, the case is likely to remain a bitter reminder of how difficult it is for a woman to live freely in the restrictive male-dominated society.

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Egyptian women sexually harassed at anti-harassment march!!!

An International Women’s Day demonstration in Cairo’s Tahir Square turned violent when a group of men attacked it. Photograph: Str/AP

By: Alexandra Kinias

A women’s march on June 8th demanding the end of sexual harassment in Egypt took a wrong turn when a mobs of men violently assaulted the women and caused injuries and mass chaos. Eyewitnesses from Tahrir square reported on their twitter accounts that they were groped, beaten and humiliated by the angry thugs who were out there to break the march.

Sexual harassment can only be described as an epidemic that has been wildly spreading in the streets of Egypt without control. A survey conducted in 2008 by The Egyptian Council of women reported that 83% of women had been subjected to sexual harassment. Egyptian women, who took the streets to fight side by side along their male peers in Tahrir square during the 18 days that ended the rule of Hosny Mubarak, expected that with the end of the old regime a new future will be drafted for them.

In her interview with the guardian, Egyptian activist Marianne Ibrahim explained her failed expectations and diminishing hopes for the Egyptian women, “During the 18 days against Mubarak there were no women and men. It was just Egyptians in danger. I was in the square almost daily and I didn’t witness a single case of sexual harassment.” She said. “But that changed after Mubarak stepped down. We were back to face the reality of where we are as Egyptian women. We’re not a priority even with fellow revolutionaries.

The months that followed the Egyptian revolution witnessed a major setback for the women. Instead of being rewarded for their efforts that changed the course of history, they gained nothing but further degradation to their status. With the exception of nine women who were elected in the parliament, their role in their political life in Egyptian was nullified. To add to their humiliation, the new elected parliament is discussing the repeal of laws that had previously granted them the rights to divorce and to abolish the laws that banned FGM and marriage of minors. When women voiced their dismay and demands in marches, they were violently attacked by mobs.

Organized mobs harassing women don’t operate in a vacuum. Similar incidents of aggression occurred on International Women’s Day when women marched in Tahrir demanding more political and civil rights. The fact that Mubarak is out of power doesn’t mean that his regime was abolished. Egypt that has been ruled with an iron grip for the last sixty years, thirty of which were under Mubarak, is still being operating with the same doctrine that was instated by Nasser and copied from the Iron curtain countries.

Sexually harassing female protestors is an established practice invented by Mubarak’s National Democratic party and dates back to 2005, a weapon still widely used worldwide, to intimidate female protestors and combat opposition. Incidents that women had been sexually harassed with excessive use of violence by antiriot police during Mubarak’s reign was not uncommon.

With the rise of Islamists to power in the last year, Egyptian women are caught between the rock and the hard place and their already fragile status is rapidly declining. Islamists won’t rest until they clean the streets and work places from women. Women demanding equal rights are an obstacle to their cause.

Sexual harassment and violence against women are commonly used by many governments to silence women and men who oppose the government. In societies where women’s bodies are scared, it is the cheapest and easiest way to break their spirits and bring shame to their families. The video of the Egyptian girl that was dodged and stomped in the streets of Cairo, and became famous as the blue bra incident, shocked the world at the atrocities women in Egypt are exposed to when they took the streets to rally against the situation in Egypt after the revolution.

The blame for the current situation in Egypt is shared by everybody. It is the fault of a government that was responsible for an ailing education system that left citizens victims to the venomous brainwash of radical Islamic scholars, who mushroomed under the eyes and ears of the government. It is the fault of the society and culture that raises girls to be ashamed of their bodies, voices, faces and existence. It is the fault of the mothers who are abused by men, yet raise their sons to be disrespectful to women and last but not least, it is the fault of the religious scholars who consider women as commodities and spread fatwas to beat them instead of respecting them.

Women have lost a battle, but the war for women’s rights and equality is not over yet, because it is fought by fearless women who stood against a dictator. So far the revolution has failed women, yet they are not giving up. Women are angry, but they are not defeated. They are aware that the revolution has changed everything. It has combated their fear and raised their voices. “… the revolution has also changed the situation. You can see it in the young women. We are more persistent in claiming our rights. More women are talking about sexual harassment than before. We are open about it and we are clear about our demands. The social change that is taking place – it’s gradual but it’s still there.” Ibrahim said.


Filed under Violence against women, Women Rights in Egypt