12-13-2011By Quinn O'Keefe
Senior Associate, Human Rights Defenders Program
When protests began in Tahrir Square this past year, thousands of “first time” women activists were inspired to join the growing movement calling for democracy in Egypt. While the world turns its attention to the development of women’s rights in post-election Egypt, there are still abuses that persist daily under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Our friends at Nazra for Feminist Studies just released a report documenting how the SCAF is suppressing women activists using the same tactics as the Mubarak regime of violence, sexual assault, baiting, and sexually-based charges. In addition to shaming women activists in their communities, these tactics are meant to intimidate other women from becoming politically active.
Nazra and other groups on the ground are now working to keep women activists engaged, and to fight for a space in the public sphere that is free from harassment and violence against women. Human Rights First hopes to help by coordinating peer-to-peer exchanges between Nazra and other women activists from around the region and world who have faced similar transitions and worked to keep new women activists at the forefront of political and social change.
Human Rights First recently returned from Cairo after meeting with Nazra on these issues, and also provided written testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Global Women’s Issues on women in the Arab Spring.