Sexual Assault: The Mean Streets of Cairo – Part III, End of Series

By Hadear Kandil on Jun 08, 2011

In Egypt We Trust


Since the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian Military is the authority over the nation. Egyptians are compelled to trust the Army and believe that its intention is solely for the good of the people. This is not necessarily so, however.

Amnesty International, March 23, reported one scenario that infuriated many women. A few weeks before a report was published, there was a feminist protest in Tahrir Square, demanding gender equality and fair treatment of women, and it was a way for women to initiate their involvement in the upcoming political parties and cabinets. In response to these protests, Army officers arrested a number of the women who were violently beaten, subjected electric shocks and strip searches, which were carried out in front of male officers, and were followed by forced virginity tests.

Based on the Amnesty International report, “The women were then subjected to ‘virginity tests’ in a different room by a man in a white coat. They were threatened that ‘those not found to be virgins’ would be charged with prostitution.”

This is the Egyptian Army, the interim authority until parliamentary and presidential elections in September. Egyptian people are supposed to trust and believe in it. What happened to the women in Tahrir that day was repulsive and barbaric, and activists as well as human’s rights organizations are putting in much work to bring justice to the victims of that military attack.

In addition to these efforts, there is a volunteer initiative called HarassMap, which compliments Internet and social media that was werein organizing and spreading the revolution. The aim of this initiative is to spread awareness of sexual harassment and end its social acceptability in Egypt. Its interactivity with victims of harassment is via mobile phone. HarassMap has set up an online reporting service so that a victim of harassment can send a text message or use Twitter to report an incident, including a geographical location.

Volunteers of the movement then target these areas and work to change the environment. The project reinforces a sense of community and highlights the importance in the issue of sexual harassment through the involvement of people in that area in becoming watchful and vocal about what they see. This is an important effort, especially now that Egyptians sense the power of the people and that great change can actually take place. With the combination of hope, social tools and communication, and a renewed sense of patriotism, Egyptians must keep working towards the equality and justice that has been long awaited.

The revolution has only just begun.
Hadear Kandil can be contacted at

The Writer’s Bibliography

“Rage, Rap and Revolution.” Time Magazine. 28 FEB 2011

Report: Clouds in Egypt’s Sky

Sexual harassment in Egypt: Why men blame women – Christian Science Monitor.

Aljazeera – English

Amnesty: Egyptian Women Protesters Forced to Take ‘Virginity Tests”