Numerous movements, political parties, organisations and individuals took a united stand on violence against women. In a statement titled “Sexual violence and torture against women will not break their struggle to complete the revolution”, the wide range of signatories strongly condemned the chronic problem of sexual violence against women, especially in Tahrir Square during demonstrations.
“In an attempt to break women’s participation in the struggle to achieve the demands of the 25 January Revolution of ‘dignity, freedom, and social justice’, organised groups began using sexual violence as a weapon against women: from insults and harassment, to rape, gang rape, sexual mutilation and attempted murder,” said the beginning of the statement.
The group said that this was only the most recent global phenomenon in which sexual violence was used as a weapon against women, citing Rwanda, Bosnia, Serbia, Darfur, Iraq and Syria as past and current examples. The statement expressed disappointment in those who were silent about the current problem and those who sought to silence those speaking out against it, thus perpetuating the social stigma surrounding victims of sexual assault or rape.
“But Egyptian women decided to talk, to make all those in power live up to their responsibilities in the face of these repressive practices that not only degrade women, but also seek to break the will of the Egyptian people,” the statement continued.
The group blamed the “ruling political regime” for using sexual violence as Mubarak’s did and vowed to take legal and social stands against perpetrators.
Dozens of organisations including the El Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and the New Woman Foundation signed the statement.
Eight movements including the Revolutionary Socialists and the Free Egypt Movement approved the document. Seven political parties including Al-Dostour, the Free Egyptians and the Popular Current were also among the signatories.
Over a hundred prominent politicians, activists and other figures in Egyptian society also signed the statement, including former television anchor Bothaina Kamel, Abdel Gelil Mostafa, and George Ishaq.