When we consider human rights we refer to the various themes and characteristics as those being consistent with a lack of hindrance to human freedom and free will within boundaries that ensure no harmful impact upon others. As long as in the exercising of our human rights we do not impinge upon or harm others they are viewed as a valid expression of our humanity inwardly (our values) and outwardly (their expression).
Metamorphosis with Nicab (detail) 2010 ©Lee-Anne Raymond
By declaring or endorsing all female protesters as valid targets for molestation because they should not be out protesting, Egyptian Islamic clerics and public officials, are in violation of the human rights of all Egypt's women as well as those targeted and attacked.
For those of us who reside in democratic societies rarely are we exposed to such persecution and attack on our human rights by the state or any state run apparatus in such an odious manner. Egypt's spring uprising hangover has produced a hardline religiously inspired elite who do not merely cross lines but smash through the boundaries of exercising their own human rights, their religiously held convictions that women are inferior to men, to the harmful detriment of their female compatriots. These elite deny they have a duty to protect these women because, basically they bought such consequences upon themselves.
Police general Adel Abdel Maqsoud Afifi is a prime example. Afifi, "a lawmaker and ultraconservative Islamist", blames Egypt's women for their the systematic gang rape because;
“a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions.”(1)
Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker Reda Saleh Al al-Hefnawi asks;
“How do they ask the Ministry of Interior to protect a woman when she stands among men?”(1)
Sheik Abu Islam (Ahmed Abdullah is a television style preacher) states;
“You see those women speaking like ogres, without shame, politeness, fear or even femininity. Such a woman is “like a demon,” he said, wondering why anyone should sympathize with those “naked” [women who] “went there to get raped.”(1)
Reports cite the conduct as being "state" endorsed and organised to deter female protester participation by using rape as a control mechanism of fear and as a form of punishment.(2, 3,4) The victims are generally surrounded then set upon by up to 50 men who torture the victim raping her with their hands brutally at length, for payment.
"Victor and Tutu,..., said they operate in a group of around 65 local men and got paid between £10 and £20 a time. But they would not reveal who pays them.
'We're told to go out and sexually harass girls so they leave the demonstration,' Victor told The Times. He said the aim was to cause disruption and instill fear in protesters. He said members of the public sometimes joined in." (4)
Some victims injuries are so serious as to require emergency hysterectomies. It represents the ugliest personification of the religiously based attitudes women should not be seen to or be participating in public life beyond what is permitted by the Islamic religion and obviously within its cultural sphere. Rape as a behavioural social control mechanism amounts to the vilest form of coercion and intimidation. It is outlawed by the Geneva Convention(5) as a "crime against humanity". Rape for coercion and as a State run program is clearly a human rights violation and it is being systematically used by The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic purists now in control of Egypt, to control and wipe out political dissent and a lack of rigour in adhering to the new State's faith values.
The chronic sexual harassment of women in public generally in Egypt though not new has surely reached impossible and intolerable levels? In matters of public participation such as in participating in a public protest this seemingly accepted general public sexual persecution and harassment of women has become uglier, organised and paid for by the state and practiced with a level of cruelty that is beyond all comprehension.
"...19 reports of group sexual assaults, six of which resulted in hospitalisation, while the worst case involved the mutilation of a woman's genitalia with a knife."(2)
Such statements and actions are in effect a declaration of war against women such is the aggression and completeness of it. In western secular democratic societies freedom of choice, movement, association, religion, political and artistic expression as well as being able to critique and think out loud fearlessly are assumed. In Egypt women (and dissenting men) are denied most of these freedoms.
Whilst some in the west avert their eyes from Islamic intolerance of non-Muslim values and look instead hopefully and vainly toward the Muslim Brotherhood as being representative of some sort of moderate Islamic alternate solution many, particularly women, know better.
"The new constitution has swept away recognition of women's rights and left the door open to the legalisation of perhaps Egypt's most crippling social issue – underage marriage. Draft legislation that would allow the legal age of marriage to be lowered from 18 to 13 has been drawn up while clerics within the Muslim Brotherhood have indicated that marriage at the age of nine for girls is acceptable.
"Children need to have their rights but also you want to marry a girl who is much younger so she will stay young and beautiful when you are old. Also you can control her better and make sure she is not one of these girls who goes around wanting to be harassed," said Abdel Rahman, 17. His friend Youssef, 20, agrees. "There are many girls who just want to be harassed, walking around in the streets with their eyes uncovered." "(6)