Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination (MARED), joined by a number of feminist human rights movements, has issued a statement denouncing the escalating harassment of non-veiled women on Egypt’s streets
Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination (MARED), joined by a number of feminist human rights movements, has issued a statement denouncing the escalating harassment of non-veiled women on Egypt’s streets. It is a common perception in Egypt that non-veiled women are non-Muslim.
The statement expressed deep concern regarding the escalation of harassment incidents since the Islamist Mohamed Mursi was elected as Egypt’s president. News of such incidents have circulated widely on the official and social media (Facebook and Twitter), and have cited verbal and physical harassment. Offenders, the statement said, directed veiled and overt threats against non-veiled women, branding them as “immoral” and “indecent”, and menacingly insisting that “an Islamic regime has now come to Egypt to teach you decency.”
Eyewitnesses said the offenders were mainly bearded men or women wearing niqab, the full face veil, in a few cases the harassers were security men.
The harassment incidents, the statement said, reflected a macho culture that is unfriendly to women. Such a culture, according to the statement, belittles women and sees them as evil beings: the source of all sin. The offenders abuse Islam to justify their hostility towards women, which poses a real peril to women in the public sphere and an outright encroachment against their rights and freedoms.
The statement warned that the matter required prompt action not only to preserving women##s dignity, but also to safeguard the entire Egyptian community which has been, over the centuries, characterised by plurality and cultural and intellectual diversity.
All democratic forces, the statement said, reject all aspects of harassment and offence against women, and denounce all attempts to exclude women from the public arena, whether through sexual abuse or through the curtailment of personal freedoms, as displayed by security or Islamist forces.
The statement cited several incidents of harassment which were reported by women activists and professionals, and insisted that women, as the weaker element in the community, should be victimised. “We will struggle to defend women##s dignity and freedom, as an integral part of the dignity and freedom of the entire community,” the signatories to the statement pledged.
The signatories called upon women who are victims of harassment to stand up to their offenders, reject their actions, and report the harassment to the Police.
Finally, the statement called upon all State institutions and the new Egyptian president to stand up to their responsibility and pledge to protect women’s rights and dignity.
1 July 2012