Rape culture attempts to silence Egyptian women


**Trigger warning**

In a recent survey from UN Women, 99.3 percent of all Egyptian women report being sexually harassed, and 91.5 percent have experienced unwelcome physical contact.

However, nestled within this spike of rampant sexual assault and rape of Egyptian women, justice for the victims and pressure for societal changes to address its own rape culture are lost and exploited for political gain. Egyptian society, not unlike many places in the West (or the world for that matter) blames victims for their assault. It is (as we are well aware) the victim blaming that silences. While Egypt law carries stiff punishment for rape an sexual assault, women are discouraged from reporting them, and men continue to commit these acts of violence knowing that they’ll go unpunished. The political underpinning to the spike of sexual assaults has been the consistent protests against the regimes of first Mubarak, followed by Morsi and now, the current interim government and military leadership.

Anna Lekas Miller writes for the Nation:

As recently as March, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that a United Nations declaration draft to end all violence against women would lead to the denigration of society. However, during the most recent wave of sexual assaults the Muslim Brotherhood finally paid attention to the attacks—not to condemn endemic violence against women but to exploit it for political gain. They pointed to the assaults—most of which occurred in Tahrir Square, the home base of the anti–Muslim Brotherhood protests—to delegitimize the opposition.

Immediately after the news of the first sexual assaults, a Muslim Brotherhood television channel, Misr 25, began a smear campaign against the protesters, calling them “thugs” and denouncing the way the “revolutionaries” treated women in Tahrir Square. The Brotherhood never once asked what they could do to help the survivors, and condemnation of the assaults was always framed within a condemnation of the anti-Morsi opposition.

Again, rape in this context becomes a tool of political suppression. Women have been prominent participants in the Egyptian Arab Spring revolution since 2011, turning out in Tahrir Square by huge numbers. The frequency of these attacks on women protesters has blinded some in the West to vilify the faith and given the Muslim Brotherhood fodder to discredit and undermine civil disobedience in Egypt. Meanwhile, justice and redress for sexual assault survivors is lost. While civil unrest continues in Egypt with sustained protests, some Egyptian males have formed human shields to protect women protesters from assaults from mobs.

You can read more here.


SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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