Continued Militarization in Egypt: Increased Violence Against Women Human Rights Defenders During Dispersal of Cabinet Sit-in

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Women Activists Beaten, Brutalized and Subjected to Sexual Violence

The targeting of Women human rights defenders (1) seen over the course of an entire day, when the sit-in at the cabinet building was dispersed at dawn on December 16, is a continuation and clear escalation of militaristic policies aimed at Women human rights defenders, employed consistently by the former regime prior to the January 25 revolution. The policy of targeting Women human rights defenders is part of attempts by those currently in charge of the country, the various security agencies, and the remnants of the former regime to expel women from the public sphere. The events that ensued following the dispersal of the sit-in at the cabinet building by army forces at dawn on Friday heralded a new, unprecedented phase of violence against demonstrators, which has thus far claimed the lives of 9 protestors. These events were marked by targeted assaults on women; photographs and video clips clearly exposed the flagrant abuses faced by female activists, who were detained, beaten, dragged, and stripped of their clothing.

The level of violence deployed this time by the armed forces shows that the use of force to disperse sit-ins and demonstrations and the targeting of Women human rights defenders is not a coincidence, but rather a systematic policy pursued by the armed forces and police. Institutional violence against women activists has been documented starting on March 9 with the virginity tests and the failure to investigate and hold accountable those responsible. It was seen again in the events of November 19, when the army disappeared from view as police forces took the lead in the using systematic violence against protestors, including women, and again in the events at the cabinet building on December 16. Nazra for Feminist Studies documented the testimonies of female activists who were subjected to sexual assaults, physical and verbal, by police forces and persons in civilian clothing during the events of November 19. The documented violations include arbitrary detention, beatings and kicks, at times with military boots, dragging, attempted choking, sexual harassment including attempts to strip women, rape threats during detention, insults of a sexual nature, and all manner of degrading, inhumane treatment, a well as the temporary confiscation of personal property.   Read more

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