Sexual Assaults in Egypt’s Tahrir Square Rising; Designed to Intimidate Women

Five men raped a 22 year old Dutch journalist in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday. Millions of people have been protesting the removal of Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi in Tahrir Square, The Age reports. The woman is in severe condition and is hospitalized. She’s believed to have gone through surgery for the injuries sustained in the attack.

Forty-four cases of sexual assault and harassment against women have occurred since Sunday night alone, according to Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment.

The group tweeted the following: “Among the reported cases tonight are grandmothers; mothers with their children; 7yr olds. Common denominator: all female.”

The Age reports that other female journalists covering Egypt’s protests have been sexually assaulted, including French television journalist Sonia Dridi and Lara Logan, a correspondent for CBS news:

Logan was sexually assaulted and beaten in Tahrir Square in 2011, and later said she believed she was going to die.

After being rescued, Logan returned to the US and was treated in a hospital for four days.

“Sexual violence is a way of denying women journalists access to the story in Egypt,” Logan told the New York Daily News following her assault.

“It’s not accidental. It’s by design.”

British journalist Natasha Smith of the Fair Observer also reported being sexually assaulted by a mob near Tahrir Square.

Although sexual harassment is not new to Egypt, suspicions abound that many of the recent attacks are organised by opponents of various protests in a bid to drive people away.

Amnesty International said in a report last year that such attacks appeared to be designed to intimidate women and prevent them from fully participating in public life.

The news of the attack came as the Egyptian army issued a 48-hour deadline for the deadly clashes to be resolved.

So far eight people have been killed and hundreds injured in the protests, which coincide with the first anniversary of President Mursi’s inauguration.

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