Egypt’s shame: violent assaults on women

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Originally published in The Globe and Mail

‘…At the dawn of the wretchedly misnamed Arab Spring, Westerners hoped the overthrow of a corrupt dictatorship would liberate Egypt’s women. Instead, it made things worse. Public order deteriorated. The military regime of the immediate post-Mubarak period imposed “virginity tests” on female protesters. When the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, it began to introduce gender segregation in public places. Some politicians even argued that women who had been assaulted at demonstrations should be punished for simply showing up and inciting the assaults. Not surprisingly, a recent poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked Egypt as the worst Arab country for women to live in.

It wasn’t always like this. As Emily Dyer writes in Foreign Affairs, a generation ago only the most conservative women wore headscarves, and sexual harassment was rare. Since then, the government has increasingly treated women as second-class citizens. Islamic law was declared the principal source of legislation, and women began to disappear behind the veil. Other practices made a comeback, too. Despite a law forbidding female circumcision, more than 90 per cent of women have had some form of the procedure.’

Read the original article here.

HJS



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