Adonis Diaries

Kinds of rapes, Mob sexual assault, Culture of sexual violent harassment…

Posted on: August 15, 2013

Mob sexual assault? Culture of sexual violent harassment…

On 30 June, as “the Coup That Must Not Be Mentioned” was being celebrated in Tahrir Square of Cairo, news of over 80 reports of mob sexual violence and harassment emerged as a reminder of an ugly undercurrent behind the two-and-a-half-year-long anti-regime uprising.

Sexual harassment and violence in Egypt is a daily occurrence – an epidemic, with 99.3% of women (pdf) claiming to have suffered some form of it.

 published in the this July 2013 “How we ‘other’ sexual assault to ignore our own norms of abuse?”

Is rape used to bully women out of the public forum in Tahrir? Yes.

But does Egypt have a monopoly of sexual violence? No

Mob sexual violence, however, carries a certain brand of particularity as a near-explicit political tool used to discourage women, who make up nearly half of the total population, from attending demonstrations.

Maria S Muñoz, co-founder and director of the anti-sexual assault initiative Tahrir Bodyguard, traces the advent and use of organized mob sexual assaults to the days of Mubarak, pointing to the 2005 assault of journalist Nawal Ali by hired “thugs” during a demonstration.

Despite being aware of the risk of attending political demonstrations, women, Muñoz notes, “have continued to share the public space in protests, becoming an essential part of the opposition’s voice and presence.”

India gang-rape protester

A protest against the gang rape of a student in Delhi, which provoked soul-searching about India’s ‘women problem’. Photograph: Piyal Adhikary/EPA

The culture of sexual violence and harrassment, in Egypt, has received considerable media attention, often highlighting the efforts of groups such as Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, HarassMap and Tahrir Bodyguard as people-powered initiatives tackling sexual violence and harassment head-on. Despite this, it is apparently still difficult to have an honest discussion over why it happens.

Are there levels of seriousness to rape incidents?


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August 2013

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