When Women Fear to Tread: Sexual Violence and the Egyptian Revolution

This article was published in Huffington Post, February 13, 2013, co-authored with Roger Friedland.

The body politic is at risk in Egypt. On the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution — Jan. 25 — in a demonstration in Tahrir Square, a woman protester was violently set upon by a mob of men who grabbed at her private parts, pulling and pushing her from person to person until she was finally and with great difficulty rescued by teams of anti-harassment male activists. The roiling crowd circling around its prey was captured on video.

She was not the only victim that night: Eighteen other incidents were also reported. And this was not the first time women protesters — and reporters — have been attacked by crowds of men in such demonstrations, their clothing ripped off, men’s fingers reaching inside their underwear.

When the masses brought down Hosni Mubarak’s regime two years ago, women who played a crucial role in the demonstrations that led to the fall of the regime marveled at the safety they experienced in the squares. In February 2011, a young activist woman named Samar Osman reported to Radio Free Liberty: “The days of protests was utopia because not one man looked at me in a sexual way at all. Actually, they were very, very protective of us.”

The Italian and Persian translations of this article can be accessed here and here respectively.

Download full article as PDF

Online article is a compact version. You can also download full article that contains aditional diagrams and content as PDF.