Saturday, December 21, 2013

Acid Attack On Unveiled Egyptian Woman - Young Activist Discusses

Here's an interesting article by a young Egyptian woman, Reem Abdel-Razek, regarding Egypt's horrendous problem with sexual harassment. Apparently what they are now doing is throwing acid on girls from behind, so she is initially unaware of what happened to her. It happened to the sister of a friend of hers in Cairo, in broad daylight.

Esraa [Mohamed] was walking in her own neighborhood at 3 p.m. when she realized she was being followed by a well-dressed, respectable looking stranger. He said, “I am not harassing you but don’t forget to wipe off your pants.”

She suddenly began to feel a burning pain in her backside and rushed into a cafe to see what was wrong. It was then that she realized she couldn’t remove her pants and took a cab home. By that time the pain was so excruciating that she almost fainted; her buttocks and the back of her thighs had been burned by acid that had eaten into her flesh. The doctor who examined her said she had second and third-degree burns, with cell necrosis in some areas. The diagnosis was “chemical burn by an unidentified corrosive.”

According to Abdel-Razek, this has also happened to others, most have just been too embarrassed to tell anyone.

Esraa does not wear a veil, and they think this might have been the reason she was attacked, at least that's what some Facebook users told her was the reason.

Abdel-Razek also talks about how sexual harassment was virtually unheard of in the 50s and 60s, during the time when very few women wore the veil. The harassment, she believes, has escalated (out of control) with the growing influence of Islamists.

The role of Islamist propaganda in promoting the acceptance of violence against women often gets overlooked by those who are afraid of appearing “Islamophobic” or racist. But addressing the roots of violence against women is one of the most important steps in eradicating it.

During the 1950s and ’60s, this level of sexual persecution was unheard of in Egypt. At that time, hardly anyone in cities wore the veil and Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, had virtually disappeared due to the Gamal Abdel Nasser regime’s systematic attempts to eradicate them. When Anwar Sadat became president in 1970, he eased up on the Islamists because he wanted their support against leftist groups. Thus the 1970s witnessed a religious revival. By the 1980s and ’90s, the Brotherhood’s influence and the social services it provided were entrenched in many villages and neighborhoods, and the number of women wearing the veil rose significantly as a mark of the influence of political Islam.

I remember a conversation about the hijab between my mother and a woman who belonged to the Brotherhood. She said, “Every time I think about how uncomfortable it is, I remember that by wearing it I am promoting our ideology.”

Islamists launched campaigns pushing the veil. One showed a picture of a three legged chair and said it was like a woman without a veil. Another showed a lollipop wrapped in paper next to an unwrapped lollipop covered with flies, which it compared to a woman who does not veil. These campaigns objectified women by comparing them to chairs and candy, and dehumanizing women is the first step in justifying violence against them.

Radio and TV channels that catered to Islamist agendas (most of which have been shut down in the past few months) endlessly justified wife beating, female genital mutilation, marital rape, and other forms of violence against women. They also promoted the idea that women are inferior to men and in need of constant monitoring and disciplining. Those on the receiving end of these messages aren’t just orthodox Muslims or Muslim Brotherhood members, but a much wider demographic.

And talking to the police about sexual harassment is futile because the police think the same way as the harassers.

Not to say that women wearing hijab don't get harassed, they do, they probably just don't get acid thrown on them.

More info- Source

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