We’ve all been glued to our TVs for the last few weeks watching democracy rise up in Egypt. When Hosni Mubarak resigned on Friday, it was a victory not only for the pro-democracy protesters but also for Egypt’s women, who were enjoying their own social revolution.
Women have been repressed in Egypt for decades. A study in 2008 for the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights showed that more than four out of five Egyptian women had been sexually assaulted at some time in their life. According to the same report, Egypt had become a transit country for trafficking women sex workers, particularly from cities with high tourism. Along the same lines, the study demonstrated that the harmful practice of female circumcision was still happening regularly. The percentage of circumcisions had decreased to 92.2% in urban areas in comparison with 98.3% in rural areas. These are just a few of the challenges that women in Egypt faced under Mubarek rule.
For the last three weeks, women have been flooding out in protest. According to The National, women represented 40-50% of the protestors in days leading up to Mubarek’s resignation, as compared with 10% in previous protests. Women were blogging, tweeting, texting, and chanting side by side the Egyptian men. In the streets, women felt like they were being treated as equals for the first time. Mozn Hassan, the director of the Nasra Feminist Studies Centre in Cairo, painted a clear picture of February 2011.
“For years the media and government have tried to keep men and women apart, to drive a wedge between us. But in the square, you had people from different classes, both men and women, mixing, talking and debating. They [men] were seeing that women are strong, that they can look after themselves. They were seeing women work hard for the revolution, leading protests, and their response [not groping] is their way of saying, ‘I respect you’.”
An English teacher, Riham Muntaz closed The National article by saying, “We want a better life for us and for our children. We deserve a better life.”
Yes, you do.