Egypt must end state oppression of women and girls – a global problem

  • Opinions By Reem Abdelatif, Nimko Ali (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Inter Press Service

Today, African Women’s Rights Advocates (AWRA) and the Five Foundation, The Global Partnership to End FGM, Equality Now, Democracy for the Arab World Now, and a number of prominent voices in the region and beyond, have come together to demand this. Take immediate action to rectify the situation.

It must take clear steps to increase the rights of women and girls in all walks of life, including ending child marriage and banning articles that perpetuate sexual violence and gender inequality in the country’s law text.

The signatories to an open letter also demanded that the Egyptian government enforce the law against female genital mutilation (FGM). With 27.2 million infected – about 90 percent of the female population – Egypt has the highest number of survivors of FGM in the world, yet the government is failing to act effectively.

It is clear that when the perpetrators are finally arrested and convicted, they receive extremely short and suspended sentences, such as in 2017 when 17-year-old Mayar Mohammad Musa was killed – and just a year ago when another girl, 12 years old, was killed. . -Nada Hassan Abdel-Maqsood, one year old, died at a private medical clinic in Manfalut.

In 2013, the killer of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batayar, Dr. Raslan Fadl spent just a few months behind bars in 2016 to avoid arrest for three years. Anti-FGM legislation was tightened earlier this year, but we know that clinics in Cairo still openly offer treatment for harmful and sometimes lethal practices.

Furthermore, women cannot fully claim their fundamental right to physical autonomy where public law does not criminalize marital rape or virginity testing. The government has made no effort to tackle domestic violence in Egypt, which has long been tolerated and accepted in society.

Egyptian women and girls have been enough. Over the past few years, they have come forward in unprecedented numbers, breaking the barrier of fear and expressing the painful experience of living with sexual abuse.

Survivors have demanded justice and called on the state to help end the impunity of perpetrators of sexual harassment. However, their appeals for physical autonomy fell on deaf ears when, in January 2021, the Egyptian cabinet proposed a private dignity bill that would further deprive women of their basic rights.

Human rights activists and grassroots women protested the return proposal, which would give fathers priority over mothers in child custody. It will also allow fathers to prevent mothers from traveling abroad with their children.

In case of marriage, a male guardian such as an uncle, father or brother has to sign the marriage contract on behalf of the wife. Although this particular draft law is not likely to be passed now, the signatories of the open letter want more clarity to ensure that it is not republished in a new format because the law was proposed by the government as opposed to a political party representative.

In Egypt, the Internet remains the only public means of alternative expression; And yet Egyptian female social media influencers who are unrelated to the state or the ruling elite have been targeted for arrest.

Since 2020, authorities have launched a highly offensive campaign against women social media influencers and prosecuted more than a dozen of them under the Vague “Morality” and “Public Obscenity” Act, accusing women of violating “family values”.

When the famous influential Hanin Hosam was released after his arrest, the authorities re-arrested him in 2021 and charged him with “human trafficking” for using social media in a way that only challenged patriarchal rule.

Regional and global women’s rights activists familiar with Egypt’s bureaucratic and oppressive history of women see it as a state-sponsored crackdown on female social media influencers under the guise of sexual “morality” allegations that violate women’s right to freedom of expression. Physical autonomy, and non-discrimination. Investors, donors and corporations in Egypt should also take note of all these violations against its female population and provide assistance where it is needed critically – especially grassroots women workers.

The prosperous, just and peaceful vision of the United Nations and global powers for “Generation Equality” cannot be achieved when the most populous country in the Arab world massively devalues ​​its women and girls.

Egypt must play its role as a beacon of hope and civilization, and therefore the Egyptian government must be held accountable for carrying out the necessary changes so that young girls can live a dignified and fulfilling life.

Towards the end of this month, Egypt will have an ideal opportunity to do so, when it will be asked to be part of the review of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Egypt’s economic transformation is already happening. It is one of the leaders in the region in attracting foreign direct investment, but its potential will never be fully realized unless its government enables women, half of its population, to contribute safely, freely and socially and economically. The future of the country.

Rim Abdelatif Director and Chief Operating Officer of the African Women’s Rights Advocates Movement (AWRA). Nimko Ali CEO of Five Foundation, The Global Partnership to End FGM.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedSource: Inter Press Service

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