A post from a member of OpAntiSH, who are intervening in violent mob sexual assaults in protests in & around Tahrir. This group is saving lives on the ground, at huge personal risk. The author was on a shift for nearly 8 hours, receiving 46 reports of mob sexual assault. From here, we can’t help with that. In solidarity, we can express our support, boost their media, and look out for any invitations for international support from afar. We might be able to raise funds to transfer to them, allowing people on the ground to concentrate on other matters – although there may be political issues with being perceived as receiving foreign money.
While Western journalists have been more respectful in their reporting than Egyptian mainstream media, articles have sometimes become framed in a racist/imperialist narrative of ‘uncivilised people in the middle east treating women badly again’ – something to keep in mind and be wary of. Take a look at this article, an interview with Tamara Abdul Hadi about her latest photographic project Picture an Arab Man, which addresses the problems of stereotyping Arab men. It isn’t linked to OpAntiSH’s work, but can serve as a reminder that the mob sexual violence in Tahrir is in a specific and complex political and social context, and should be linked up to fights against sexual violence as a weapon to marginalise women from social movements across the world, to avoid the negative effect of racist stereotypes of Arab gender relations.
Egypt at the moment feels like a series of battles and struggles, separated by geography but all ultimately linked together, hurtling towards some unknown destiny. People are dying, politicians are floundering. This post is about one fight: the one against sexual assault.
The fight to free people’s bodies from sexual violence is a global one. Everywhere women and men have been and are raped, assaulted, and threatened with violent sexual language and gestures. The motivations seem to be myriad: individuals, armies, and political groups do this to try to intimidate and control people, or simply to make themselves feel more powerful. The fight over the bodies of women in Egypt is the one I know the most intimately, and the one that I struggle the most to understand. Egypt’s darkness when it comes to rampant, daily sexual harassment has been discussed in western and local media.
Since last November, protests in…
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