According to an article by Rachel Newcomb that appeared in the Huffington Post, women were not safe in Egypt under Mubarak. State-sanctioned violence against women was prevalent. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International cited Egypt for using torture, rape and sexual violence to intimidate women activists who had the courage to criticize the government. Newcomb pointed out that there is evidence which indicates that Egyptian security forces actually ordered the assault on women protestors during recent demonstrations.
Newcomb cited some facts concerning sexual violence transcending ethnic and religious barriers. During the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990s about 20 to 50,000 Muslim women were raped. Recently, 17 American servicewomen filed a class action lawsuit stemming from reports of rape by fellow service members. Newcomb mentioned the Super Bowl, in which allegations of rape face both teams. There were also reports of an increase in sex trafficking of girls and women during the time period of the Super Bowl.
Newcomb said, “To be sure, sexual harassment is endemic in Egypt.” She added that American women are lucky to be able to walk down the street without suffering through the physical and verbal harassment that Egyptian women undergo. A study by the Population Reference bureau found that poor women in Egypt are twice as likely to be victims. Studies similar to this one that have been done in the U.S. also show a correlation between poverty and violence committed against women. According to a study by the Justice Department, one in six American women will suffer through a rape in their lifetime. In 50 percent of murders of women in the U.S. the perpetrator is a partner. Newcomb said “Muslim countries hardly have the monopoly on violence against women.”
There are those who actively work in order to stop violence against women in Egypt. The doctor Amal Abd El-Hadi has a group called the New Women Foundation which works to end violence that is gender based. Dr. Aida Seif El Dawla is a psychiatrist who has instituted programs that rehabilitate the victims of torture and violence.