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It is with dismay that Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s project “MENA Agenda 1325” learns of escalating attacks on women protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Reports by our Egyptian partners and Human Rights Watch indicate growing levels of extreme sexual violence against women who have taken to the streets alongside men protesting for democracy and justice in Egypt.
We understand that these attacks take place with impunity and that injured women have little or no chance of prosecuting their attackers, in the rare case that they can identify individuals among the packs of men who assaulted them. We note that women’s insecurity, and their inability to access justice, has been a scourge since the beginning of the Egyptian uprisings in January 2011.
In particular, we recall the struggle of our colleague Azza Suleiman, who was brutally assaulted by the Egyptian military in December 2011 as she went to the aid of an unidentified young woman. Azza, herself from a military family, has been fighting tirelessly to achieve justice for the vicious assault she endured that day. She still feels its psychological and physical impacts today.
WILPF stands in solidarity with all our Egyptian sisters, and echo the call of the Egyptian Women’s Union for the Armed Forces to protect all Egyptians and to honour their commitment that they will not seek political power in this time of social upheaval.
WILPF also calls on Egyptian men, especially men in the military, to honour the spirit of the revolution. The freedom of all Egyptians is at stake today. This freedom will not be achieved unless women’s full and equal right to participate in every aspect of the country’s life is respected, protected and promoted.