Around this time each year on March 8th, the world celebrates the International Women’s Day. Since its beginning in the early 1900s, this day used to stand there to remind us of the invaluable contributions –social, political, economic, scientific, etc.– of women as well as of the issues that need to be urgently addressed, such as social inequalities, equal pay, civil rights, and others.
However, it seems that women in Egypt are deprived of even more basic human rights that are usually taken for granted in other nations. Since 2013, hundreds of women and girls have been arrested, imprisoned, harassed, raped, or even killed by state forces.
Women and girls in Egypt, who are in state’s detention centers suffer from inhuman treatment, medical negligence, sexual harassment, and torture. In its report, Amnesty international states that the “risk of torture and other ill-treatment is particularly acute upon arrest, during police interrogations, and during the initial period of detention” (2015, p.51).
In several cases, women and girls were shot dead or have died while in custody because of torture or medical negligence. Since 2013, the number of documented deaths reached 306 cases.
Other violations of women’s rights included false arrests during peaceful protests or while visiting a relative prisoner (354 cases), dismissal from college for political activism (526 cases), trials in military courts (23 cases), or death sentences (5 cases).
Others were sentenced to years in prison without a fair trial or legal representation. In fact, the total number of years to be spent in prison by these women reached about one thousand, two hundred and twenty-three years (1223 years).
The violations were also practiced against human rights defenders, reporters, and activists.
Human Rights Watch states that “Prosecutions, travel bans and asset freezes against human rights defenders, in addition to repressive new legislation, threaten to effectively eradicate independent civil society”. Women were no exception in these violations: 93 women were added to the watch list, 96 had their assets frozen, and 93 were denied travel outside the country.
The state went further to “criminalize independent human rights work in Egypt”, says Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. In December 7th, 2016, Egyptian police forces arrested Azza Soliman, a leading women’s rights defender at her home. According to the Human Rights Watch, the act was a “serious escalation in the authorities’ ongoing crackdown on independent rights groups”.
Human rights defenders, and women’s rights enthusiasts in specific, were optimistic about the recent visit of the female German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to Egypt and her meeting with the activist Gamal Eid (banned from travel outside the country) to loosen the state’s grip around Human rights activists.
However, the Egyptian administration, government, and police forces seem to continue their violations of human rights –both in and outside the state’s detention centres. While these violations continue, the future of many women and girls in the state cells remains unknown.
On the international women day, Egyptian coordination for rights and freedoms condemn the violations against women in the world in general but also specifically in Egypt.
We are also working together with every free person and everyone around the world to abolish violations against women internationally. And we are demanding the Egyptian authorities to release all Egyptian detainees.
On the International Women’s Day, the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) reassures its condemnation to the violations against women, both in and outside Egypt –regardless of their race, colour, religion, or ethnicity. ECRF is working tirelessly, with all those concerned, to put an end to these continued violations hoping that our non-stop demands to free detainees will find a listener.