Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Egyptian women's rights activist Hania Moheeb: 'Sisi owes a lot to Egyptian Women'

By Henry Hullah 
Today, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered his interior minister to fight sexual harassment after several women were attacked during his inauguration celebrations. But will el-Sisi's sentiment make a difference?
"Definitely", says Hania Moheeb a prominent activist for Women's rights in Egypt and who is herself a victim of sexual harassment.
"President Sisi owes a lot to Egyptian women who lined up to vote for him."
"I was happy that he spoke about the issue...I think that if he has the will and declared that he has the will then something will happen."
According to the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, over 99% of women in Egypt will suffer some form of sexual harassment at some point and it's an experience Hania Moheeb knows all too well.
She was just one of the thousands of Egyptians who took to Tahrir Square in Cairo last year, to commemorate the second anniversary of the January 25th revolution. But something happened that catapulted her into activism; she was sexually assaulted.
"As soon as I set foot in Tahrir Square, I got attacked by mobs, by groups of young men. I don't know the number. It was getting dark and the light was off, all the lights in the square was off. I couldn't recognize anyone and the attack lasted for 35 minutes almost.”
'The problem has two sides'
Moheeb was quick to point the multi-faceted nature of women's rights in Egypt, one that is echoed across the world. There is, she said, "the legal and executive part and the cultural and educational part."
"The whole thing about laws in Egypt is that we don't have a method of applying those laws."
Amanpour asked if it is the police who are not prepared to handle cases of harassment.
"Definitely the police are not prepared for this, but they are also not prepared for many other types of crimes...for the last 10 to 20 years the only role of the police in Egypt, till the end of the Mubarak era, was to protect the regime...This has to change".
And the cultural and educational situation?
"Everybody was complicit at that time, over the last decades because the religious discourse, especially directed through the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was always looking at women as inferior."
"We have to change the method of education and teach children equality from the very beginning."


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