Nearly all Egyptian women, 99.3 percent to be exact, have experienced some form of sexual harassment. Authorities have failed to sufficiently protect women in the country. In some cases, it's people in positions of power who actually subject women to such violent conditions. The country's capital was even named the "most dangerous megacity in the world for women" in 2017.
One rights platform has been documenting violations against women in the North African nation since July 2013. We Record has documented women's enforced disappearances, physical and psychological torture, threats of rape, and exposure to sexual harassment by members of national security since then.
In the past six years, at least 312 extrajudicial killings have been carried out against women. These women were killed by either direct shots via snipers, random fire during demonstrations, or sometimes for just covering political events or walking in the streets. In addition to that, 396 women and 16 girls were forcibly disappeared and 115 others were referred to terrorism courts.
As pointed out in the report, lawyer Hend Mohamed Talaat Khalil had been forcibly disappeared for 125 days inside the National Security in Alexandria. She was faced with maltreatment, beating, electric shocking, and threats of rape. She was also put in solitary confinement for two months.
StepFeed has tried reaching out to We Record for comment but hasn't heard back.
Egypt's uprisings in 2011 put gender-based violence in the spotlight, prompting the rise of many women's rights NGOs and campaigns working to end the brutality against women. Unfortunately, not much has changed since then. Gender-based violence against women, like many places in the world, is still very prevalent in Egypt's public sphere and behind closed doors.
Earlier this year, Egyptian security forces assaulted some female high school students and threatened them after organizing a protest in objection to the new educational system involving tablets. In one video posted at the time, a security officer was captured restraining a female student in front of the education ministry in Cairo.
Physical abuse is one side of the story, while mental abuse is the other. The country has attempted to silence several women from speaking out against the violence that occurs in the streets of the country. In 2018, Egypt jailed yet another woman on charges of "spreading false news" and "possessing indecent material." In May 2018, authorities detained Amal Fathy, an Egyptian actress and former activist, after uploading a video criticizing the country's failed attempt at protecting women.
The report mentioned that no less than 2,629 women have been placed in temporary detention centers and prisons for various periods and then were released; 127 women are still in jail.
The discrimination is exacerbated when it's a transgender woman at hand. In one particular case that caught media's attention earlier this year, Egyptian authorities arrested a trans woman for taking part in an anti-government protest and placed her in a men's jail. Egypt's High State Security Prosecution released Malak al-Kashef a few months after she was arrested.
Now, let's talk about the violation of women's bodies — be it from authorities or family members. Unfortunately, in Egypt and the majority of other countries across the Arab world, a woman's virginity is still linked to her "honor". This is why millions of women are forced to undergo horrific virginity tests. The exam is usually performed when family members or a woman's husband suspect she had a physical relationship prior to being married.
In 2016, Elhamy Ageena, a member of Egypt's Parliament, sparked outrage after he asked universities to impose virginity tests on already enrolled female students to ensure they are still virgins. The country's military also performed virginity tests on several women who were arrested during the 2011 Egyptian uprising.
Another violation of women's bodies is the common practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), which is defined as a "partial or total removal of the external genitalia, or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons," in Egypt.
According to a 2014 survey, 92 percent of Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 have been circumcised. This can lead to worrisome side effects, including severe physical pain, bleeding, and the risk of wound infections. The practice has also been revealed to cause a delay in women's sexual response cycle. In 2017, it was revealed that 70 to 80 percent of all Egyptian women cannot orgasm due to the practice. Though Egypt's government passed a law in 2016 that increases the penalty for female genital mutilation, it is still practiced illegally in the country.
The lack of enforcement of laws and the abuse of power in the country has only made the situation worse for women in Egypt.