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Egypt protests: Nearly 100 women sexually assaulted, raped in Cairo
Shocking reports have emerged from anti-harassment factions of nearly 100 women having fallen victim to “rampant” sexual assaults and in some instances being raped by mobs in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, over four days of Egyptian protests against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York, said, "Mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square...amid a climate of impunity."
Citing statistics from the Egyptian Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH), which runs a hotline for victims of sexual assault, Human Rights Watch showed that on Sunday there were 46 cases of sexual attacks against women, on Monday there were 17, and on Tuesday there were 23.
According to OpAntiSH, four of the women who were attacked over the past four days required medical aid, while one woman required surgery after being raped with a blunt object. "Among the reported cases tonight are grandmothers; mothers with their children; 7yr olds. Common denominator: all female," OpAntiSH tweeted.
Among those attacked and in severe condition according to reports is a 22-year-old Dutch journalist, who was gang-raped by five men in an attack reminiscent of the 2011 sexual assault in Tahrir Square on CBS's , after the ouster of .
While some women in Cairo reported mob attacks in the past few days, others have disclosed they were raped with a knife or blade. So severe have been the injuries that several required surgical intervention after the attacks. According to Human Rights Watch, some women protesters were "beaten with metal chains, sticks, and chairs, and attacked with knives."
Another organization focusing on research of women's rights, Nazra for Feminist Studies, reported that there were five more attacks on women on Friday. The watchdog called on Egyptian officials and political leaders "across the spectrum to condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence" in the historic square.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: "The rampant sexual attacks during the Tahrir Square protests highlight the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis in public spaces."
"These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country's development," Stork added.
The Egyptian government, on its part, has done little to help. Their response to reports of assaults on women protesters has been to "downplay the extent of the problem or to seek to address it through legislative reform alone," Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch is pushing for concerted efforts to improve the protection of victims and bringing the perpetrators of assault to justice. Unfortunately, the victims are not willing to speak publicly about their ordeal for fear of social stigma, and the filing of criminal complaints is rare, Human Rights Watch said.