Anti-sexual harassment rally planned for Saturday to protest Tahrir assaults

Ahram Online , Tuesday 10 Jun 2014

A Facebook event titled 'Walk like an Egyptian Woman' is calling for everyone to 'leave their political views aside' and show up Saturday for the rally

Women chant slogans as they participate in a protest against sexual harassment
File Photo: Women chant slogans as they participate in a protest against sexual harassment, in central Cairo February 12, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Several accounts of sexual harassment in Egypt's Tahrir Square earlier this week have sparked local groups to come together in protest, with a rally planned for this Saturday quickly gaining momentum in online groups.

The event – titled "Walk like an Egyptian Woman" – has already attracted over 13,000 Facebook users who say they'll participate in the anti-sexual harassment protest.

Women's rights organisations like Baheya Misr have shared the event on their Facebook pages and called on people to join.

The protest will take place on Saturday, 5pm, at Saad Zaghloul Square in front of Cairo Opera House.

Dina El-Shebba, the event's organiser, wrote on the Facebook page:

"So if in India people protested against the gang rape of two girls, [then this] is the least we can do for the woman that was raped in Tahrir today along with all the Egyptian women who are subjected to violence every day."

El-Shebba's comments refer to last month's news of the gang-rape and murder of two young girls, aged 12 and 14, in the north Indian state of Uttar Prudesh, which drew widespread condemnation.

The alleged rape of a woman in Tahrir Square has not yet been verified. However, a video circulated online Sunday evening of a naked woman with apparent bruises on her body being escorted to an ambulance by a group of men, including a police officer.

Egypt's interior ministry has since announced that seven persons have been arrested in connection with the alleged assault, with three others detained for a separate sexual harassment incident that took place in Tahrir Square on 3 July.

Both accounts of sexual assault took place during celebrations to mark the presidential victory and inauguration of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the former army chief who won the 26-28 election by a landslide of nearly 97 percent.

Sexual harassment has become an endemic problem in Egypt over the last decade – and not just in protests.

"Leave your political views aside now. This is something that should unite us all because it happens to all kinds of women, which could be you, your friend, your sister, your mother, your cousin, your wife, anyone you know," El-Shebba wrote on the event's Facebook page. 

Last week, former interim president Adly Mansour issued a sexual harassment law that was praised for stipulating tougher penalties and jail terms for offenders.


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