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Violence Against Women and Harassment Against Women in Egypt

Posted on the 20 June 2011 by Warigia @WarigiaBowman
Dear readers
I mentioned in my last post that my nanny was assaulted on Friday for being Sudanese or dark skinned. However, I told this story to my class, and again on the bus, and now I am beginning to wonder if gender is a factor as well. As we say in the social sciences, perhaps there is an interaction effect between race and gender.
First of all, earlier this semester, a female student at the AUC campus was walking to her car at night. She was physically assaulted by a male assailant, and left with cuts and bruises, although she was able to fight him off. The guards did not come to her assistance, and when pressed, suggested that she had mental health problems.
In addition, an African American female student of mine who was veiled or covered, (i.e. she wore hijab) was also physically assaulted earlier this semester. At the time, I did not ask her the details, but we were concerned that it was due to her dark skin color. Then, last night, when I was telling my class this story, another brown skinned female student told me that she had been attacked in the metro. She defended herself, and had rocks thrown at her, and was left with cuts on her cheeks. Not only did the men and women around her not assist her, but the men around actually joined in on the attack like a mob.
So, at this point in the narrative, i.e. last night, I thought that perhaps dark skinned women are vulnerable to attack in Egypt. However, I got in the bus this morning, and a colleague, an archeologist, very blonde, very pretty, and very white, was recounting how she was physically assaulted by security in Cairo Airport. A male colleague was with her and confirmed her story. I told her that I had a female student attacked in the metro. She told me that she herself had been attacked in the metro, and that she had also had rocks thrown at her. She says that she has seen Egyptian women harassed as well.
Okay, so now I have several stories 1) an Egyptian student, veiled, 2) a Sudanese nanny unveiled, 3) an African-American student veiled, 4) an African-American student unveiled, 5) a white professor unveiled. When I read these stories together, I see that the only thing these people had in common is that they were women, and that they were violently attacked, and that no one helped them.
This makes me think that the Laura Logan assault, and the "virginity testing" incident are not matters of oppression of journalists, or violence by the SCAF. Rather, perhaps there is a real problem of violence and harassment of women in Egypt. This is by no means a representative sample, and gobs more data are needed, but a disturbing pattern is emerging.
Your thoughts are welcome. WMB

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